GSL Super Tournament #2 and WCS World Finals @ Blizzcon
As many of you might be aware, today are the GSL Super Tournament #2 qualifiers. This is an extremely important day, as its the last big SC2 tournament for Korea currently scheduled this year, and will decide the last 2 spots at the World Championships for the Koreans.
When reading the “Major Changes” coming for StarCraft 2 later this year, the first thing that jumped out at me are how different Protoss vs Terran will look. This blog will go into some detail on my thoughts about how those changes could impact the matchup.
Widow Mine change:
- Widow Mines are now revealed while Sentinel Missile is on cooldown.
Let’s think about early game TvP for a moment. Currently, there is a choice to make. Do I keep my Oracle out on the map or send it home to defend vs drops? Do I risk flying in not knowing where mines are? If I lose that Oracle, I’m going to be really hurting at home. What if the Terran made a proxy Factory and Starport? Maybe I should go for a Robo so I can clean up mass Mines more easily.
Now, none of these decisions matter any more for Protoss. In fact, I’m already planning on opening Twilight every single game now. The power of the Widow Mine’s consistent cloak in the early game has truly been powerful. You simply must have detection – Observers or Oracles – no matter what.
With this change, though, Protoss players will simply trade a Probe for a Widow Mine, and happily go about their day.
Now, this all sounds really silly when I outline it like this. What I wrote above is an outline of what this change does alone in our current version of LotV. In our current version, this would be a brutal change for for Terrans. The thing is, we have to look at it in context of all of the upcoming changes, and this change, in particular (with regards to Terran vs Protoss), has amazing synergy with other changes.
First lets look at the Mothership Core, its purpose, and its removal.
I think that many non-Protoss players are happy to see the Mothership Core go, and that many Protoss players are scared of the same prospect.
What is the function of the Mothership Core? Why does Protoss need such a tool?
The Mothership Core was introduced to help shore up early game Protoss defence. The Protoss race, from the get-go, has been about teching up before macroing. If you make more than a handful of Gateway units before going higher up the tech tree, this generally means that you are going all-in, as the Gateway units simply don’t scale well without upgrades or splash damage.
So, if we look at the current role of the Mothership Core in Protoss vs Terran, it will generally help you (with good positioning of Pylons), to defend your bases early game with a minimum of Gateway units while getting out Robo tech, or an Oracle, or maybe even an upgrade like Blink.
The Protoss army has always thrived on working together (a nice way of saying Deathball). While, sure, you could have little harassment groups around the map trying to get things done, if your army isn’t all together and you run into your opponent’s army, you are in a lot of trouble. These types of armies in general are not as mobile as most Terran and Zerg armies, making it a bit scary to move around the map. Counter attacks could come quickly and do lots of damage. This, again, is where the Mothership Core helps out. By leaving an inexpensive unit at home, you would have some degree of defence vs incoming counter attacks, giving you some extra mobility on the map.
So now we have the Mothership Core on the way out. In it’s place is the Nexus, full of new abilities:
- Cost: 50 Energy
- Duration: 10 seconds
- Effect: Boosts a building’s work rate by 100%.
- Cost: 100 Energy
- Effect: After 4 seconds all units in target area are teleported to the Nexus. Units are unable to move or attack during this time.
- Cost: 1 Energy per 3 shield restored
- Range: 8
- Has autocast functionality
- Can be cast on units or structures
All I’ll say about the new Chrono Boost ability for now is that it is infinitely more interesting than the Chrono Boost that we’ve been working with lately. There are actual decisions to be made and APM/Rhythms to be used.
Now let’s talk about the Shield Recharge ability.
I love this ability. It is a fantastic idea. In a world without the Mothership Core OR Shield Recharge, Protoss would be forced to make lots of Gateway units nonstop, making sure they always have enough to simply beat what’s coming at them. This would make a horrible situation where everything you do is stifled. It would kind of look like games on Ulrena, if you remember that map, where Protoss would be extra heavy on Gateway units, waiting for an attack that might never come, thus forcing aggressive builds to utilize those units before their value sank too low in comparison to better scaling from the opponent’s units.
So, here we are with the new Shield Recharge. Now, whether your opponent is dropping with a Medivac into your main base or attacking your front with Roaches, you have some support for your early Gateway army. Defence won’t be a single click of a button that makes it mathematically unwise for your opponent to continue his attack, but rather micro-based. Stalkers, Adepts and Zealots fighting, sometimes kiting, being healed as they are focus fired down. I think that it will be extremely hard for anyone to argue that this will be less entertaining or less fun for either side when compared to the Mothership Core.
I also find it really cool that it will work with Cannons as well. You won’t necessarily have to have units at each base to defend vs smaller attacks in the mid and late game.
So now let’s look at Mass Recall:
- Cost: 100 Energy
- Effect: After 4 seconds all units in target area are teleported to the Nexus. Units are unable to move or attack during this time.
It probably isn’t worthwhile to compare this ability with the current Mass Recall on the Mothership Core. The new version is unquestionably better.
Mass Recall probably won’t be used very much in the early game, as it definitely requires a high mana cost, but as the game becomes longer, it should be an extremely strong aspect of Protoss - adding a huge amount of mobility.
And a quick look at the new Stalker:
- Increased Stalker’s Particle Disruptor weapon from 10 (14 vs armored) to 15 (21 vs armored)
- Increased Particle Disruptor’s weapon period from 1.03 to 1.54
- Particle Disruptor now gets +2 damage per weapon upgrade, up from +1
The new Stalker will maintain approximately the same DPS throughout the game, but will take over (in conjunction with the Nexus’ new abilities) the defensive roll that the Mothership Core used to have.
One of the problems in early game PvT since the Siege Tank buffs (as well as Liberators in general) was that making Stalkers early on in a defensive manner could be detrimental. For instance, the original Protoss defensive opening of Blink/Observer, was almost completely killed off by the presence of early Tank pushes. You would simply not have the damage or health to fight off a well executed attack from Terran, and thus the build went into obscurity. This forced Protoss into builds based off of a tech unit (most often the Oracle) to slow the Terran down, so that you could buy time to crush an early push all at once. Now:
1. You don’t necessarily need early detection to deal with Widow Mines.
2. The Nexus can heal up lots of damage on your Stalkers.
3. Initial (first volley) damage output from Stalkers are greatly increased.
When you put all of these changes together, Protoss vs Terran, from the Protoss perspective, looks a lot different.
- You are no longer forced into either Stargate or Robo for macro openings
- You are no longer forced to control the early game with just 2-3 specialized units (Mothership Core, Oracle, Phoenix, etc)
These make me think that early game PvT will likely consist of making a few defensive Stalkers while getting a Twilight Council and a Forge or two. Without an overwhelming need for early detection, Protoss can focus on getting ahead on upgrades and having much higher mobility with a larger and stronger early army than ever before. The more we see the matchup skew towards this, the less each individual unit will matter (unlike now with a huge importance on the specialized units).
I think that the direction of Protoss splash actually supports my notions of the new direction of the race:
- Purification Nova now detonates on contact with enemy units (not structures)
- Purification Nova still lasts 2 seconds before detonating
- Damage reduced from 145 (+55 shields) to 135 (+25 shields)
- Cooldown reduced from 21 to 18
- When dropped from a Warp Prism the Disruptor’s Purification Nova will be set to a brief cooldown. As it felt a little too strong vs worker lines otherwise.
Quicker cooldown, but much easier to micro against. Less giant swings due to overwhelming splash damage. The cooldown when dropped from a Warp Prism is shocking, to be honest. This was never and to this day is not a problem in professional play. I don’t think that this was on anyone’s list of things that felt too strong agains worker lines. I disagree with this change wholeheartedly. Disruptor Drops are no longer a viable strategy with this change. Even the other change about contact with enemy units would have nerfed them already, but this is insane overkill.
- Damage changed from 12 to 10 (15 vs Light)
- Damage per upgrade changed from 1 to 1 (+1 vs Light)
- Range increased from 6 to 7
- Upgrade: Extended Thermal Lance
- Range upgrade decreased from +3 to +2
- Cost decreased from 200 / 200 to 150 / 150
Obviously Colossus will shred Marines even harder than before, and it’s nice to make base range a bit longer as well as Thermal Lance a bit cheaper. That being said, this doesn’t seem like a buff or a nerf to me. Just a slight change in roll, from something that you will always just blindly make, to something that you think about whether or not you want. I might be slightly wrong due to numbers, but it seems like that’s the intended direction at least.
I do want to, for a moment, mention the Ghost change:
- Cloak is now available by default on Ghosts
- Ghosts now start with 50 energy instead of 75
- Moebius Reactor is re-added to the Ghost Academy. It provides +25 starting energy to Ghosts
If, in fact, the Protoss meta does shift as I think it will, Ghosts could be a pretty cool way to keep things in check. Starting with Cloak makes the fast Ghost rushes (that we barely ever see) more reasonable, and just in general force Protoss to not skip detection all game long. I think it’s a solid idea.
From the Terran side, most of the changes don’t seem to greatly effect the TvP matchup. The Widow Mine change is pretty big for the early game. The fix to Liberator vision was probably called for a while ago. The Cyclone initial volley will help push out harass a bit better, which is a good thing. But overall, there’s not a whole lot there. Of course, as Protoss’s overall play changes some, Terran players will have to adjust accordingly. That’s just common sense.
The overall feel that I get from these changes on the Protoss side of things is that the early game will become less volatile, and the basic Protoss army will feel stronger and more mobile. Mid-game map control could easily become Protoss favoured. In short, this new PvT looks like it will be a lot more like the flavour of PvT in StarCraft 1. Based on the overwhelming majority of comments that I’ve read online about the flavour of Protoss in SC2 in the past several years, I would think people will be happy about this general direction.
Having the Nexus enable Gateway units (alongside the higher Stalker damage) to be useful on defence in the early game without making them overpowered offensively is awesome and should make the game more enjoyable for everyone, whether playing or spectating.
BONUS!! Here’s some stuff I don’t like at all from the changes:
This is so weird. The stated reason is that it will make them easier to control, not running into battle to die.
Who is attack moving their High Templars into battle and losing them like that? This is not and cannot be a change for the pro level, and that I don’t like.
HT attack isn’t the only change like this:
“While we don’t want to make Protoss ability gameplay any more complicated we wanted to try making Observers more useful for ladder players. Currently Observers are selected with the select all army button (F2 by default) which can often bring Observers out of position and to their untimely demise. While we’d like to keep observers in this selection, we are considering adding the ability to ‘deploy’ your observer for increased vision range in exchange for being unable to move.
New ability: Surveillance Mode
The observer is unable to move and gains 25% more vision”
Let me rewrite this one -
“We noticed that people are bad at StarCraft. Many players have developed bad habits and are too lazy to fix them, so we are going to make those bad habits less bad.”
As a turtley macro player, I’m very excited to have 25% more vision on my Observers. This isn’t the right reason to give me that, though. I disagree with the change, but more so with the stated reason for the change. If you want to use the “easy button” to play StarCraft, then that’s a drawback you should have to deal with. Learn to play more cleanly and you will lose less Observers.
Same opinion on the Overseer change which is exactly the same.
OK, so that’s really the end now! I’m on vacation right now, but if I have time I’ll write some more about the other changes soon!
The Four Horsemen It should come as no surprise that all of the Four Horsemen will be playing at IEM Shanghai. What is a surprise, though, is that 3 of them are in the same group. Group D stands for Death. It’s easy to feel bad for Trust who has to battle his way through INnoVation, Expert_ByuN and JinAir_Maru, but I’m sure Terran players will find a way not to, on the account that he’s Protoss and all.
The Zerg short-list If you had to name the world’s best Zergs, it would go something like this:
soO, the complete package of Zerg, 6 time GSL Finalist
Dark, the most aggressive macro player maybe ever, SSL Champion and Blizzcon runner-up
LFT_ByuL, the mechanic god, INnoVation’s counter-part for the Zerg race, 4 time combined GSL/SSL runner-up
Splyce_Solar, the meta-changer, SSL Champion
JinAir_Rogue, the long-time up and comer “sexy Zerg”, who’s time may have finally come, Korean Ladder #1 dominator
Well, IEM Shanghai will showcase 4 of those names, with only ByuL being unable to make the cut.
This year’s GSL Champions
Splyce_Stats and PsiStorm_GuMiho will both be competing in Shanghai. In the same group. You’re welcome.
The Chinese hopefuls
China has an extremely strong and passionate StarCraft II scene. Sadly, we only get glimpses of it, due to many of their tournaments being Chinese-cast only on Chinese streaming sites, Visa issues, and the difficulty of cross-server play.
Luckily we get the chance to see 2 of their very best in action, in front of their home-field crowd. TIME, the incredible rising star of China, who we just got to see put up some fantastic games in GSL Code S (being the first Chinese player to play in GSL in many, many years) will be in the incredibly hard Group C. We will also get to see a preview of the GSL vs the World invited player, iAsonu, a household name of the Chinese scene.
Perhaps the hottest player on earth right now
The one and only Super Tournament champion, ROOT’s very own herO. This man is absolutely on fire, absolutely demolishing his competition in his recent matches. Not only one of the favourites of IEM Shanghai, but of GSL Code S this season as well.
And of course, the Groups:
Group A TY Dark Bunny PenguiN
Group B Stats GuMiho Rogue iAsonu
Group C soO herO Solar TIME
Group D INnoVation Maru ByuN Trust
Make sure you catch all the action starting at: 9:40am Thursday 27th - Sunday 30th, Shanghai time
herO, the evolution of Adept / Phoenix Transitions, and the difference between GuMiho and aLive.
At IEM Katowice I was pretty outspoken about the need for Protoss players to transition out of Adept/Phoenix play in PvT as the game became longer. herO’s play in the group stage was a great example of the limitations of the Adept/Phoenix composition. In many of his games he would have what amounted to a decent lead and eventually get grinded down by remaining on the early/mid game composition for too long.
Some Protosses, most notably Stats, were attempting to transition out of Adept/Phoenix, but that transition was not yet fully vetted. In both games during which he opened with Adept/Phoenix strategies against TY in the finals of Katowice, Stats attempted to transition out. In both of these games (game 2 on Proxima Station and game 3 on Abyssal Reef), Stats followed up the opening with Blink and Psi Storm, and in both of these games TY defeated him. Stats hung up the strategy for the rest of the tournament, as TY was clearly more prepared for these situations than he was.
2 Weeks Later…
IEM Katowice ended on March 5th. Let’s fast forward almost 2 weeks later to March 18th. On this day, herO and Stats both showed identical transitions from the strong Adept/Phoenix early/mid game into a full blown, teched out late game.
Here is a brief outline of their important changes to the transition of Adept/Phoenix into the late game:(please note that for these rules to hold, Terran should have taken a 3rd base and not taken or inflicted critical damage, i.e, a “normal” game)
- The transition happens in the area of 70-80 Army Supply for Protoss (40ish on ground units - mostly Adepts, 20ish on Mothership Core / Oracle / 7-8 Phoenix / Prism). Around this time the game is shifting. Either you have done enough damage that Terran is scrambling, or Terran is turtling well enough on 3 bases that you will get diminished returns upon any further attacks.
- The transition itself is into a 2nd Robotics, Colossus Tech, and THEN a 4th base. The second Forge and Blink can come around this time as well.
3 Weeks Later…
Now, strategies do not stop evolving in a game like StarCraft 2. As shown above, Adept / Phoenix went from no transitions / bad transitions into a highly regular and strong follow-up strategy in under 2 weeks time. Protoss vs Terran and Terran vs Protoss are, of course, still evolving. Certain base concepts of RTS will always apply, and as people use them in different ways or with different emphasis-es the metagame will continue to evolve.
Let’s fast forward again, from March 18th, where a completely solid transition was showcased for Phoenix Adept, to almost 3 weeks later during GSL Super Tournament. As you probably already know, herO won this tournament, mostly on the back of his outrageously strong PvT. The two matches that I want to talk about are the ones which he had in the ro8 and Finals, against GuMiho and aLive, respectively.
In this game, and overall in the series, GuMiho plays against herO’s strong Pylon rush opener. Instead of the popular Gas before Barracks which is used to get your Factory and Reactor out right after your Reaper, GuMiho instead goes for a Barracks first. With this he skips the Reactor for a little bit and instead makes 3 Marines immediately, which do a fantastic job of shutting down the aggression.
GuMiho uses a “GuMiho moveout”, as I call it in my head. He, like many other Terrans, will move out with a couple of Medivacs, some Marines, and 2-3 Widow Mines. Unlike many other Terrans, he won’t engage with it. A key to understanding Adept/Phoenix is to understand that they WANT this fight. Adept/Phoenix is strong in small skirmishes, and especially strong against Marines. The lower the supplies, the stronger Adept/Phoenix becomes. GuMiho will not give you this fight. He will pretend that he is going to, often times baiting out an Overcharge. Then he will retreat over his Widow Mines, hoping that you will chase and lose a couple Phoenixes. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The most important thing is that he makes it back home, not having donated his units towards a Protoss victory. Screen Shot below.
Behind this, GuMiho is just massing up on 2 bases. The push distance on Newkirk Precinct between GuMiho’s natural and herO’s 3rd is very short, which makes this a strong choice of strategy for the map. He is making sure to make Liberators, Marauders and Widow Mines. His push will begin around 110 Army Supply. The 110-130 Terran Army Supply range, generally speaking, is where Adept/Phoenix will start to deteriorate in value. Remember, Adepts are like Roaches. They can be scary, but the higher your supply, the less you have to worry about them. Here is a screen shot of the armies as GuMiho starts his push.
Now, I need to mention about herO’s lack of transition here. GuMiho has forced this. As I mentioned above when talking about the transition into Colossus tech, it is used when Terran has 3 bases and has basically shut down harassment. In this game, GuMiho has remained on 2 bases, has lost very little so far, and feigned pressure multiple times. herO has been forced to remain on Adept/Phoenix. GuMiho would have some serious kill potential if he tried to skimp on units at any time in this game so far.
GuMiho sets up a pretty awesome looking push:
herO begins to push it back:
herO continues to chase but GuMiho rallies in and turns any time he feels advantaged (getting most units out of range of Adepts, over mines, etc.)
This approach from GuMiho is really quite brilliant. While he does eventually lose the game, he comes very close to defeating herO, and perhaps with a few different moves a bit later, does.
And just to cut off anyone who wants to say “oh, yeah, see! GuMiho played so awesomely and in a way you say is strategically sound, and Adept/Phoenix still beat him!” , I have this to say:GuMiho is a great player, but being upset that herO beat him with Adept/Phoenix is like being upset that Maru beat Trap with Marine/Marauder.
GuMiho’s win on Echo:
GuMiho again, as he did on Newkirk Precinct, opens with Barracks - Gas, making sure to minimize damage from any Pylon rushes.
GuMiho again uses the “GuMiho moveout”.
herO tagged the army in their encounter on Newkirk Precinct when the Mines were with it. This time GuMiho kept them behind and pre-burrowed:
He then waited around a bit longer and successfully baited herO into them. Remember, Protoss WANTS to fight right now. GuMiho uses this want against him.
Now even though these first two moves I bring up are similar to the other Adept / Phoenix game, the overall strategies of both players have changed. GuMiho decided to take a much faster 3rd CC, and herO had also taken a faster 3rd Nexus – right after his Oracle, before adding additional Gateways. herO also grabbed an early Prism this game, and decided to try to kill GuMiho outright. GuMiho sat back defending, sending only a single Medivac onto the map to drop Mines while he was being harassed by the Phoenixes at his main base.
Now herO, taking a 4th base, is trying to kill a turtling GuMiho, who is taking a 3rd base.
What is wrong with this picture for Protoss? He has shaded in to a nice GuMiho arc. Many of his Adepts are not firing. Also, GuMiho has not actually lost basically any units this game. There is no real reason why a defensive GuMiho should die to herO’s attack. What is herO trying to achieve? Even if he pushes the army to retreat, what is gained? There are no SCVs at the 3rd base yet, the best he can do is trade some units for units. Now, to be fair, he’s lost some Probes to the Mine drop, and his initial Prism didn’t work out. He could feel like he needs to take some risks to even up the game, which is reasonable. Still, GuMiho defends this push very well, targeting down as many Phoenixes as possible.
After defending the a bit longer, GuMiho, not having sent countless drops out to their own doom, not having wasted units in skirmishes that the Adept/Phoenix player wants to take, moves out once again around 110 supply.
This push rolls through herO. There are lots of different reasons that herO may have chosen to play extra aggressively on this map, and just because he lost doesn’t necessarily mean that he was wrong in doing so. StarCraft is complicated like that. This game, though, is a perfect example of the need for Phoenix/Adept players to transition vs a well defended 3 base Terran who knows what he’s doing.
herO went 1-1 vs GuMiho with Adept/Phoenix play, and could have easily gone 0-2. So why, against a better Terran player in aLive, did he go 3-1? Let’s take a look at the causes of aLive’s losses.
aLive’s loss on Echo:
aLive uses a different opening on Echo from anything we normally see in TvP right now. He opens with a Barracks first and skips making a Reaper, or any units. Instead he gets a fast Reactor while expanding, followed by a second Barracks and a Factory. This will allow aLive to have a much higher Marine count early on than most common builds in the matchup.
Next, at 3:25, aLive scouts a ridiculously fast Nexus. This Nexus is so fast that it’s before the Oracle. This fast scout my account for what happens next, but there’s no way to tell for sure.
aLive scans and sees a Stargate building an Oracle. It’s actually the second Oracle. The first Oracle is almost to his base. He moves out at this point with a sizable Marine force, a Mine and a Medivac.
Of course with no units at home the Oracle flies in and does critical damage.
My guess is that aLive thought with how fast the Nexus was that herO maybe went 3rd base into a Stargate, which would maybe make him think that his scan reveal the first Oracle. Otherwise why would he leave his base completely unguarded vs an incoming Oracle? He just wouldn’t.
aLive’s push doesn’t end up doing any damage. He splits up all of his units and then herO deals with them in two groups instead of fighting against them all at once. If aLive had kept them together its certain he would have at minimum killed the 3rd base. Regardless, he lost 10 SCVs to the first Oracle before 5 minutes into the game and did nothing of note with his initial push. This game isn’t as much a loss to Adept / Phoenix as it is a loss to an undefended Oracle. If a Protoss loses 10 Probes to the first Mine Drop, normally it isn’t the follow-up kill that gets complained about. It’s the Mine Drop.
aLive’s loss on Daybreak:
This game opens pretty well for aLive. herO expands quickly and immediately tries harassing with 2 Adepts, and an Oracle. He even brings a Phoenix across to tank Mine hits so the Oracle can get more damage. aLive deflects everything just about as perfectly as you can, taking minimal damage.
The next real action occurs as aLive is moving out. He goes across the map with a similar army to what GuMiho uses in the “GuMiho moveout”. 3 Mines, 20 Marines, and 2 Medivacs. He’s headed towards the 3rd base. On his way there, herO is harassing with his Phoenixes in aLive’s natural. aLive sees this as an opportunity to get into an aggressive position.
herO doesn’t see this incoming attack until the last second, but immediately brings all of his units and warps in on location. Note the army supplies right now: 52 vs 53.
Here is the engagement about to happen. Do 3 Mines, 20 Marines and 2 Medivacs beat 15 Adepts and 6 Phoenixes/1 Oracle? Even just comparing the supplies, or the army cost of these two armies… in no world does aLive’s army ever win here.
At the pro level, Protoss wins this every single time. This particular time, aLive micros really well and herO is a bit off, even missing a pickup on a Mine. aLive actually ends up sniping off a few Phoenixes that make this fight not as bad as it could have been and often is.
Phoenix / Adept, as I’ve been saying throughout this article, is very strong in the early and mid game. We are all used to Terran being stronger in small skirmishes at small supplies than Protoss or Zerg, but Phoenix/Adept turns the tables on that. Attacks like this are, in my view, the primary reason that Terrans have a hard time against Adept/Phoenix.
This next drop happens right as aLive’s previous attack was being cleaned up. 7 Marines, 2 Mines and 2 Medivacs are sent into herO’s natural. I really like the fundamentals that aLive is showing here.
First, herO’s Phoenixes are in aLive’s natural, so aLive hits the 3rd. Then as all those units are getting cleaned up, aLive hits herO’s natural to do damage while he’s out of position. These are the types of moves that make aLive so damn good. This play shows aLive’s multi-tasking prowess. I seriously think that the first attack at the 3rd base was a mistake, but based on the fact that he did that attack, this attack is a good idea. (for the record he ends up killing 8 Probes, 1 Oracle, costs a bit of lost mining time and unpowering 4 gates for slightly over the build time of a Pylon.)
OK, so now comes aLive’s biggest mistake in this game, and what probably actually ended up costing him the game overall. aLive has traded ARMY for ECONOMY (and some tech units, i.e ~3 Phoenixes and an Oracle). When you trade ARMY for ECONOMY, that means that you now have LESS ARMY and your opponent has LESS ECONOMY. We can reword this to say that your opponent has a SUPERIOR ARMY.
As a StarCraft player, the moments after you trade your ARMY for ECONOMY are the moments during which you are most vulnerable. It inevitably means that your opponent should be looking to use this new ARMY ADVANTAGE. This is when you should be most fearful of a counter attack. herO knows that aLive just spent a lot of units to deal damage to him, but that herO didn’t lose very many units at all. So here we have herO gathering his forces to see if he can punish aLive at all.
Here’s what aLive is up to:
aLive, again, has a much smaller army. 24 Army Supply down. Not only that, but he has absolutely NO pressure on the map. Maybe if he had a Medivac in herO’s main base or something, maybe then herO would be at home trying to clean stuff up. Instead we have aLive doing nothing but expanding after losing lots of units to injure herO’s economy. This is the one time you can be certain of an incoming attack.
To aLive’s credit, when he sees herO incoming, he wastes no time getting behind his Depot Wall and pulling SCVs to repair. Within seconds, though, aLive loses 15 workers and much of his bio force. aLive’s economy advantage turns into a disadvantage, and the army supplies equalize:
This is a good spot for an Adept/Phoenix player. Adept/Phoenix wants to fight at lower supplies against Terran. Bigger economy = more production of Adept/Phoenix = easier to continually trade vs Terran. Continual aggressive trades with Adept/Phoenix is exactly what herO is going for.
The rest of this game is just wild. aLive does a great job fighting against herO, especially as his army becomes more technical. As his Maruader and Mine counts grow, aLive takes better and better fights. The game becomes an extremely down and dirty one, full of multitasking, harassment and micro – with both players showing a great quality in skill.
aLive’s loss on Cactus Valley:
This game starts out very different from the others. herO does a 66% chance of working Proxy Stargate and nails it, being very close to aLive’s base. He sends the Mothership Core over and does a Pylon rush while flying in 2 Oracles. While he destroys the front Depots and Reactor, aLive’s Reaper actually gets 5-6 Probe Kills over in herO’s base.
herO takes a 3rd base while aLive defends his relentless harassment. With 2 Oracles and 3-4 Phoenixes, herO is able to pick off a a few units and SCVs, but then pulls back into a defensive arc around aLive’s base, watching for any leaving harassment:
This is a great move to protect his economy back home. aLive has already invested heavily into tech units, so only a technical harassment threatens the almost unit-less (still on one gateway) herO. As herO adds on his tech and aLive becomes a bit too strong to contain so forwardly, herO pulls back into another arc around his home bases.
Now this game, aLive has been very much on top of his defense. He hasn’t taken too much damage despite some really flashy harassment from herO. He’s also gone up to 5 Barracks without a 3rd CC. The game is looking, strategically, a bit more like GuMiho’s play on Newkirk Precinct.
As aLive’s complexity grows, he begins to push out a bit and starts his 3rd CC. He is posturing though, and doesn’t commit to an actual fight:
When herO scouts that aLive is making a 3rd CC and continues to turtle, giving away no units for free, herO decides to transition from Phoenix / Adept, knowing that the composition is doomed vs such play:
This is a very important moment in understanding the mind of herO while playing Phoenix/Adept. For a long time aLive was just sitting on 2 bases while building his army complexity. That is, for a long time, aLive was playing like GuMiho on Newkirk Precinct. herO was unable to do anything but continue making as strong an army as he could so that he could fight at the moment that aLive would come out. When herO sees that there is, in fact, a 3rd CC on the way, he sees that aLive is not going to be allin when he attacks. Thus, herO must transition. His main goal from here out is to not to fully engage until he has an army complex enough to fight against what aLive is making.
herO (I think accidentally) lets a shade finish at the wall-in, and aLive having a sufficiently large and complex army, in addition to seeing the Adepts close by and without their Shade cooldown active, takes the opportunity to move out. Notice the army supply once again for aLive:
Here is where it gets a bit messy. In this next screen shot, herO has just shaded the rest of his Adepts away, having some shaved off by aLive chasing. herO, knowing that he MUST buy time for this huge investment into Colossus, gathers all of his Phoenix together behind aLive’s army which is in the center of the map:
Here is the moment that aLive turned back around to head towards herO again:
If aLive had not turned around, had he ignored the Phoenixes going back towards his base, he would be entering the 3rd base at this moment, with the Colossi half way done, the Phoenixes across the map, and the Adepts in the natural.
Now when aLive gets there, the Colossi are out and the Phoenixes are back. Another Warp-in round is occurring. Most importantly, perhaps, is that herO has jumped up a whole level of complexity. aLive’s army right now is perfectly suited to fight against Adept/Phoenix, but has nothing to really deal with the Colossi:
They do a lot of trading in this battle, but aLive does not kill the base. So was chasing the Phoenixes back and regrouping with some important Liberators and Widow Mines a mistake? This is where the complexity of the game makes me uncomfortable in saying a simple “yes”. The further we get into a tight game of StarCraft, the harder it becomes to be critical of some of the more complicated moves the players make. On top of that, we are getting very few games right now that progress so well to this stage.
I do want to say that I think that this game, more than any other, is a testament to herO’s skill and adaptability in the matchup and with the strategy in question.
I do not think that this article has all the answers or clearly states exactly how you should or should not play against Phoenix / Adept as Terran, or even exactly how to play with Phoenix / Adept from the Protoss side.
I do however think that this article shows many of the concepts and ideas that are being misunderstood about the Phoenix / Adept matchup against Terran at the moment. I think overall the Protoss side of understanding of this strategy is a bit more advanced than the Terran side currently, but that will swing over time, as it always does. It also seems to me, at least from the many, many games which I watch and study, that Terrans sometimes misunderstand their roll as the defender in early/mid game when playing against the strategy (as throughout the history of SC2, Terran has almost always been the aggressor, this is certainly a strange feeling change for at least some players).
Balance-wise, my gut tells me that this strategy will not prove to be imbalanced as play advances in the coming weeks. I’m fine being wrong with that, but to find out for sure we will need some more time for Terrans to continue to adapt to the strategy.
As the old quote goes: “If you’re having trouble with the balance of Starcraft, you should first try to bring balance to your own mind.” - Me, in feardragon’s dream.
Alexander “Neeb” Sunderhaft won the KeSPA Cup. Mikolaj “Elazer” Ogonowski, Tobias “ShoWTimE” Sieber and the aforementioned Neeb all made it into the round of 8 at Blizzcon. This is a wild time to be a StarCraft fan, as the foreigners continue to close the gap against the Korean programmers, making their mark more and more.
And now, Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn has qualified for the longest standing and most prestigious tournament in all of StarCraft II, the GSL Code S. While this is certainly an impressive feat, Scarlett’s entire story in the GSL has not unfolded yet, so I’d like to take this time to look back on the history of foreigners (non-Koreans) in GSL.
GSL started just after the official release of SC2, all the way back in August of 2010. It was an exciting time, the start of the first Korean league in the sequel to the game that really started esports. Immediately great attention was given to the GSL, and many top Non-Korean players decided to attempt to make their name by traveling to Korea to compete.
The First Era - Open Seasons 1-3
The Open Seasons were like the Wild West of GSL. StarCraft II was an untamed land, one full of strategies and mechanics yet to be discovered. There was a pretty good understanding of who the top players were at the time, but really anything could happen as the game was not even close to mapped out at the time. To add to the craziness, the first 3 seasons were known as “Open” for a reason. There were no seeds, and the brackets started at 64 players. This means that during the open qualifiers, there were 64 spots up for grabs to get into the GSL. That is a LOT of spots, which both allowed almost every top player to qualify, but also let in a lot of randoms who had some strange strategies or easy brackets.
Open Season 1
The first qualifier for GSL was announced very last minute, but still 4 non-Koreans were able to make it into the main tournament.
Trevor “TorcH” Housten made it only as far as the round of 64, losing to a Protoss player who, little did we know, would several seasons later become a surprise powerhouse: Cho Won “San” Kang.
Dan “Artosis” Stemkoski (me, lol!) also only made it into the round of 64. There I played a pretty poor series against a Protoss player and lost 1-2. This was of course with Zerg, my original race in SC2.
Dario “Liquid`TLO” Wunsch also qualified for the first GSL Open Season, and certainly did a good job there as well. He took out Kang Ho “LosirA” Hwang, who is still a top professional Zerg to this day, with a 2-0 score, and then lost to Yoo Jong “Hyperdub” Kim in the round of 32, a well known Terran of the time, 1-2. By the way, this was all playing Terran, the race TLO started out with.
The favourite of the Non-Koreans (and truthfully, one of the overall favourites of the whole tournament), Greg “IdrA” Fields didn’t preform as well as anyone expected in the first season. After handily dispatching a Terran player in the round of 64, he lost to Yung Soo “NettiePrime” Jun 1-2 in the round of 32.
Thus ended a very underwhelming Open Season 1 for a hopeful foreigner scene.
Open Season 2
Season 2 had repeat qualifiers in TLO and IdrA, as well as a new one in Yi “Loner” Dai, the Chinese Terran (who would soon later go on to get 2nd at the first StarCraft II Blizzcon tournament).
TLO had a harder season this time, hitting Sang Ho “Killer” Shin AKA SangHo, an experienced StarCraft 1 pro who had just switched over. He went out in the round of 64.
IdrA had a much better run this time. He took out 2 Terrans before losing to Jung Min “Zenio” Choi in the round of 16.
Loner had a pretty impressive in his first GSL, first taking out the current world champion, Hyun Woo “ByuN” Byun (who played Protoss at the time and was known as Bleach), followed by a victory over a Zerg player before losing to the Emperor himself, Yo Hwan “BoxeR” Lim.
2 rounds of 16 was certainly a much better showing for the foreigners, but nothing compared to what the 3rd season had in store…
Open Season 3
Some truly heavy hitters came out of the woodwork this season.
Hayder “Liquid`HayprO” Hussein made it in but instantly fell to the cheesiest player in the history of StarCraft, Nam Kyu “BitByBitPrime” Kim.
IdrA, Jos “Liquid`ret” de Kroon, and Chia Cheng “Sen” Yang all fared a bit better than HayprO and made it to the round of 32 before falling. Notably Sen’s run was cut short by the previous season’s champion, Jae Duk “NesTea” Lim, who mentioned multiple times that he felt Sen was easily top Korean level.
Pretty underwhelming for a brand new game with the best RTS talent outside of Korea trying their best to overcome the history of Korean dominance. Enter Jonathan “Liquid`Jinro” Walsh.
Jinro had already tried the previous 2 seasons to qualify for the GSL. Despite many weaker players making it into the GSL, Jinro was only able to make it to the ro8 in both previous qualifier attempts. 3rd time’s a charm.
In the round of 64, Jinro took out the strong Zerg player Jin Yung “Drug” Kwun 2-1. Sadly, he would be going up against the 5th race, the ultimate legend from WarCraft III, Jae Ho “Moon” Jang, in the round of 32. Sadly for Moon, that is. 2-0 for Jinro. Well, in the round of 16, which is as far as any non-Korean had made it so far, he would have to play Seong Hun “Polt” Choi. Yes, that Polt. Polt, by the way, had already taken down BoxeR in the previous round. Oh, never mind, no problem. Jinro wins 2-0. Well round of 8 is pretty damn good. But now he was going up against Hyung Seop “Choya” Lee, who had already taken out He Who Would Be The Greatest That There Ever Was, Jong Hyun “Mvp” Jung. Jinro clutched that round out as well, with a 3-2 score. Round of 4. This would be where Jinro was stopped, by none other than the Boss Toss, Min Chul “MC” Jang. MC crushed Jinro 4-0, and would go on to give a 4-1 victory against Seo Yong “Rain” Park in the Finals. MC would also go on to be the biggest money winner EVER, even to this day, when he is retired and coaching a League of Legends team. Not a bad player to go out against.
Just to get this out of the way, these large 64 spot GSLs were the ONLY times that foreigners ever qualified for the GSL through an open bracket. Every single participation in the GSL after Open Season 3 (which started in November of 2010) by a foreigner was seed-based. Until, that is, Scarlett won her qualifying group this past week.
The Second Era - Rapid Fire GSL Code S
2011 had 7 GSL Code S tournaments. 2012 had 5 GSL Code S tournaments.
GSL January 2011
Loner and ret both played in Code A and both lost to Jung Hwan “Cezanne” Kim. ret in the first round, Loner in the second.
Jinro and IdrA were in Code S, where they were both put into Group H. The star foreigners were both able to eek it out, forcing Sang Cheol “Ensnare” Kim and Hyung Joo “Check” Lee into the Up and Down matches.
The round of 16 groups were absolutely brutal for both players. IdrA was in a group with the legendary Yoon Yeol “NaDa” Lee, the Blizzcon Champion Min Soo “Genius” Jeong, and one of the strongest players of early StarCraft II, Kyu Jong “Clide” Han. Despite this, IdrA advanced in first place to the round of 8.
Jinro’s group was no less scary. Sung Je “Rainbow” Kim, the runner-up of Open Season 1. MC, the Boss Toss and defending champion. And last but certainly not least, the legendary Jung Hoon “MarineKingPrime” Lee, who was the runner up to Open Season 2. No prob Bob. Jinro gets out cleanly in 2nd place, moving on to the round of 8 with IdrA. Or should I say against IdrA?
Having not played against each other enough, what being in the same ro32 group and all, IdrA and Jinro faced off in the round of 8, to see if IdrA would become the most successful foreigner in GSL history, or if Jinro would run far out of his range. Jinro came out on top, securing his second top 4 in a row. Here he would fall to MarineKing once again, 1-3.
A remarkable season for the non-Koreans, and a statement to be sure. Spoiler alert: this greatness would never be matched again.
GSL March 2011
This was a sad time, the time when IdrA, after many years living in Korea decided it was time to move back to America. With that, Jinro would be the only foreign player in Code S this season.
It started out well for Jinro, beating down a group containing RainBow, Polt and Check to finish in first place. Once he reached the round of 16 (now a bracket), he was taken out by Hong Wook “HongUnPrime” Ahn, a Protoss of some note in early SC2.
There was also quite a handful of foreigners in Code A this season. Loner, HayprO, ret and Andrew “mOOnGLaDe” Pender all lost immediately in the round of 32.
This though, was Chris “HuK” Loranger’s big breakout moment. HuK was seeded into the Code A and was able to take down Won Pyo “Curious” Lee and Dong Hyun “Revival” Kim, two extremely strong Zergs before losing to LosirA in the round of 8. This gave HuK a spot in the Up and Down matches. After losing to Joon Hyuk “InCa” Song, a previous GSL Finalist, HuK managed to take down Choya in a close series and gain a spot in the next GSL Code S.
GSL May 2011
HuK and Jinro were all that was left going into the GSL May season. Neither were able to make it out of their round of 32 groups. Jinro beat San but lost to both Nestea and Clide. HuK wasn’t able to take any victories, losing once again to InCa as well as to the God Of War himself, Sung Joon “JulyZerg” Park. These disappointing performances forced both into the Up and Down matches. Jinro lost to both Jong Hwan “CoCa” Choi and Zenio, while HuK was able to take out Seong Won “MMA” Mun and advance back into Code S.
GSL July 2011
Due to a partnership between MLG and GSL, Shawn “Sheth” Simon was given a Code A spot for this season. Showing great skill he was able to take down San in the first round, but did lose in the next round to the strong Protoss, Sang Jun “Puzzle” Kim.
Jinro met a similar fate. After winning the first round of Code A against an unknown Protoss, he fell to the strong Terran player Dae Jin “asd” Lee, who had taken down fan favourite BoxeR in the previous round. Thanks asd.
Meanwhile in Code S, HuK was having a strong showing. He topped his ro32 group which included Polt, Killer and Lee Seok “aLive” Han. It was a much tougher round of 16 though, as HuK faced off against his close friend MC. HuK was crushed here but at least secured the next season of Code S on the back of this performance.
GSL August 2011
There were 4 new foreigner seeds for Code A this season due to the MLG / GSL partnership:
Marcus “ThorZaIN” EklofJohan
Jian Carlo “Fenix” Morayra Alejo
And Kim “SaSe” Hammar
All 4 players, as well as Jinro who was in Code A once again, lost in the round of 32 in Code A. Only ThorZaIN was able to take a map.
Similarly to GSL July, though, HuK was having a great time up in Code S. First he got out of his ro32 group in second place. Out of Killer, Ji Sung “Bomber” Choi and Dong Hwan “viOLet” Kim, only Bomber was able to take him down. As one of 4 Protosses in the round of 16, HuK got a deadly opponent indeed. A bonjwa of StarCraft 1, NaDa. HuK managed to take down his opponent 2-1, but that’s where his run would end. His next opponent was Mvp. HuK lost 0-3 there, but who can blame him? Mvp was just hitting his stride as the strongest player in the history of the game.
GSL October 2011
NaNiwa and SaSe both remained in Korea and gave Code A another go. It didn’t go very well, as both Swedish Protosses fell in the first round to Korean Zerg players. Joining them, and fairing a bit better though, was fellow Swede Jeffery “SjoW” Brusi. SjoW did manage to win his first round against Han Eol “MaKa” Kwak, but then promptly lost to the Code A Gate Keeper himself, Curious.
Meanwhile, due to his strong showing in the previous Code S season, HuK was once again the only foreigner representation in the most prestigious league in the world. He ended up in 3rd place in his ro32 Group, having lost to asd and Joon Yong “Virus” Park, but having taken down Zenio at least.
GSL November 2011
HuK fights on in Code S. Put into group C with Clide, JulyZerg and Puzzle, HuK takes first place with a clean 2-0. In the round of 16 groups, though, he gets a devastatingly hard group. The Creator Of The Universe, NesTea, along with MMA and Dong Nyoung “Leenock” Lee. No laughing matter. HuK manages a win against Leenock but loses against both NesTea and MMA, getting 3rd place. This loss in the ro16 immediately seeded HuK into the Code A ro24, where he would face Kyu Seok “KeeN” Hwang. With a 0-2 loss, HuK was off to the Up and Down matches. His group was played less than 2 weeks later. Unable to secure a top 2 spot, HuK was relegated to Code A.
SaSe and Naniwa, once again, stayed in Korea to fight the good fight. Both dropped in the first round of Code A with 0-2 scores.
GSL 2012 - Season 1
A welcome surprise occurred with the new year’s first GSL season. The return of IdrA. Kind of. Both IdrA and Sen were seeded directly into GSL Code S this season, much to the delight of the fans. They didn’t fair too well, though. Sen ended up with a 0-4 map score and immediately was eliminated. IdrA, in what could be called the group of death (containing NesTea AND Mvp) fell out in last place as well, taking only a single map.
Code A was chock-full of foreigners this season: HuK returned, of course. Two still-famous Chinese pros also came to Korea: Xiang “MacSed” Hu and Lei “XiGua” Wang. IdrA and Sen, who were eliminated early on in Code S were also back to battle it out.
It didn’t go well. IdrA lost 0-2. HuK lost 1-2. XiGua lost 1-2. MacSed? 0-2. Only Sen was able to take his series, but fell immediately in the next round.
GSL 2012 - Season 2
Only HuK and NaNiwa remained to fight on. HuK had to start out in the Up and Down matches, which still consisted of 6 man groups with the top 2 advancing to Code S. Heartbreakingly, HuK got 3rd place in his group and had to go into Code A. Here he lost in the first round to Young Il “Hack” Kim, being completely eliminated from the GSL.
NaNiwa was given a seed directly into Code S, where he made an extremely impressive run. First he topped his round of 32 group which included Dong Won “Ryung” Kim, Puzzle, and Mvp himself. Naniwa dropped only a single map. The round of 16 groups, somehow, went even better. With a flawless victory, Naniwa won the group over Young Jin “SuperNova” Kim, Virus and Genius.
This put NaNiwa into a fabled land: the GSL Code S round of 8 bracket. Here his opponent was Mvp, the eventual champion of the tournament. NaNiwa fell 1-3.
GSL 2012 - Season 3
HuK was now completely out of the GSL. NaNiwa remained in Code S due to his high placement, and ThorZaIN was back due to a seed, this time directly into Code S. Sadly, ThorZaIN wasn’t able to capitalize upon his seed in the same way that Naniwa had in the previous season, falling out of a strong group containing Hyun Woo “Squirtle” Park, Byung Jae “GuMiho” Koh, and Keen. His 3rd place finish put him into the Code A round of 32 against Jin Young “JYP” Park, where he ended up falling 1-2.
NaNiwa though, wasn’t done making his mark on Code S. In a group containing NesTea, Hyun Woo “Creator” Jang and Yeon Sik “TheStC” Choi, NaNiwa got out in second place right behind NesTea. The round of 16 groups went just as well for Naniwa, getting 2nd place to ByuN, beating out both Genius and KeeN. Again NaNiwa found himself in the round of 8, and again he found himself eliminated by a legend. This time it was Soo Ho “DRG” Park who took him out with a 3-2 score.
GSL 2012 - Season 4
Season 4 brought a new seed: Grzegorz “MaNa” Komincz was put directly into the Up and Down matches. In a 5 man group containing Ji Hoon “jjakji” Jung, Seok Hyun “HyuN” Ko, KeeN and Bomber, MaNa was able to secure 2nd place (to Bomber) and move on to the Code S. Code S didn’t go so well for MaNa. His group was maybe the most ridiculous of the year, though, so 4th place with a 1-4 map score really wasn’t that bad. Who was in the group? Oh, only Mvp, MMA and Young Seo “TaeJa” Yun.
Naniwa had similar results in his ro32 group, going 1-4 total against Squirtle, Min Hyuk “Heart” Kim and Tae Hoon “Sniper” Kwon. His drop down to Code A was similarly rough, losing 0-2 to a Protoss player.
These results meant that GSL 2012 - Season 5 would have not a single foreigner playing in it.
The Third Era - The End of Hope
GSL 2013 - Season 1
The Up and Down matches this season had both HuK and Manuel “Grubby” Schenkhuizen seeded in. Grubby ended up losing each and every map in his 6 man group and was immediately eliminated. HuK, on the other hand, managed to get top 2, just behind NesTea. This seeded him directly into Code S, where he and Ilyes “Stephano” Satouri (also seeded) would be the last foreigners to play in the tournament until Scarlett’s debut.
HuK was placed into another tough group with Bomber, GuMiho and Sniper. Only able to win a single map, HuK fell out of GSL Code S for the last time.
Stephano didn’t fare much better. With DRG and Shin Hyung “INnoVation” Lee topping the group, Stephano was only able to beat out Hack, losing to INnoVation 1-2 in the decider match of the group.
With both players in Code A, we would witness the unceremonious exit of foreigners from GSL. HuK lost in the first round 0-2 to Young Han “Shine” Lee. Stephano, seeded one round higher due to his 3rd place group finish, lost 1-2 to Jae Wook “Flying” Shin.
That season of GSL ended in March of 2013. Since that last moment, we haven’t had a single foreigner compete in the GSL. Now, with Scarlett having qualified for GSL 2017 Season 1, we begin a new Era.
A gigantic new patch was just released, the WCS 2017 plans were just released, and many of the world’s best players are streaming regularly! It’s a great time to be a StarCraft II fan. The 2017 season, odd as it is, starts this week, with IEM Gyeonggi. This event, based in a city just north of Seoul, South Korea, is a major event for the Korean side of WCS, and thus has brought out the very best players in the scene to compete in a ridiculously star-studded event. With the recent dissolution of the KeSPA teams and the aforementioned giant patch both shaking up the scene, it’s really hard to gauge where the players are at coming into the first big event since Blizzcon, but luckily we’ve had several online tournaments where players showed off their understanding of the new metagame and their current skill after having lost their teams. Let’s take a look at the groups:
Group A, otherwise known as the Group Of Death Stats INnoVation Losira herO
Let’s start out with the weak link… one of the most consistent players in the history of the game, Losira. Ryung, Patience and Rogue all fell in the path of a rampaging Losira as he cruised into IEM on his very first try. Since then he hasn’t popped up too much in online leagues, only winning the StreamMe Arena (taking down American juggernaut Neeb 3-0 on the way) , and losing to fellow Group Of Death member herO 1-2 in the Shang gan lin tournament. If THAT is the weak link in a group, then you know that it’s stacked.
herO smashed through the first IEM qualifier. 2-1 Bunny, 2-0 INnoVation, 2-1 ByuL. In fact, his play was so strong that night, that the next day the Korean ladder was simply infested with his strategies. Then he did some work in the Leifeng Cup and Shang gan ling, killing off Creator, Leenock, Stats, Keen, Hush, 2016 Blizzcon Runner-up Dark TWICE, and Solar. His one road block? INnoVation. These two have met in 4 best of 3’s in the past couple of weeks, with herO winning 2 and INnoVation winning 2. herO is clearly in top form at the moment. That being said, he might not even make it out of this group.
Stats has been building momentum and credibility towards the claims of some as being the strongest Protoss player in the world. With countless top 4’s to his name, even a group as deadly as this shouldn’t be able to stand in his way… the only thing that stops him is the pressure at the end of the tournament. While a few top-end pros have taken some victories vs Stats on the new patch, vs others like Dark, Neeb, Snute and GuMiho (all in SHOUTCraft Kings), he put on a clinic against, with displays of a deep fundamental understanding on how to out-play his opponents.
INnoVation is in god mode right now. As mentioned above, herO is keeping up with him. The only other player whom we can say that about is the world’s greatest Zerg, Dark. INnoVation is the monster of this tournament, make no doubt about it. To Advance: INnoVation, Stats. Honestly, this group is nearly impossible to predict. It is a magnitude harder than every other group in the tournament, and you can easily expect for both the players making it out to make it to at least the semi-finals. Group B
Zest Leenock Trust soO
This group looks straight forward enough, and it is. Zest has been looking quite strong so far on the new patch, mixing up his play a fair amount and showing his standard crisp execution in everything he does. His Protoss vs Zerg looks especially on-point, having played a couple of fantastic games during December’s edition of SHOUTCraft Kings against TRUE and Elazer.
soO, the 4 time GSL Code S runner-up, is looking in top form as well. He has started streaming regularly since his team, SK Telecom T1 disbanded, during which he has really been showing how it is that he has gone so deep so many times in the world’s hardest tournament. He didn’t have the easiest journey through the IEM Qualifiers, having to play all 3 days to end up qualifying for the tournament, but he still looked as strong as can be in the games broadcasted.
Trust had a strong qualification match, beating TY to make it into the tournament, but hasn’t looked too hot outside of that one night. He’s been wracking up losses against lesser pros, and hasn’t looked quite as strong in comparison to the rest of the field as he did almost year ago.
Leenock looked just fantastic on the first qualifier day of IEM, beating the likes of TY and Dream, before dying to some sharp timing attacks from the WinToss himself, Classic. On his second try Leenock made it though, beating GuMiho, Scarlett and Forte in the finals.
To Advance: Zest, soO
Leenock looked good, sure, but soO seems highly motivated at the moment. Win or lose, soO is looking fantastic. When he hits that offline arena and it’s time to preform, its hard to imagine him losing 2 matches in this group.
Group C Dark jjakji ByuL Classic
Dark, after a dominating 2016, remains on top of the Zerg race. INnoVation, herO and Dark’s personal Zerg vs Zerg nemesis Solar are the only players who seem as if they can fight vs his monsterous play at the moment. As with any tournament that he enters, Dark is absolutely a favorite to take it down.
The former GSL champion has had a really rough time in 2016, just getting slaughtered when the pressure is on. To be honest, I thought he would retire soon after his Proleague Finals bungle of a nearly 100% won game against the 2 time World Champion sOs. It was one of the most crushing defeats that I have ever witnessed, following a frustrating year of not really getting anything done. Jjakji soldiered on though, and has put out some convincingly strong play since the new patch has ushered in the 2017 WCS season. The only person in Jjakji’s way during the IEM qualifiers was, in fact, INnoVation, whom I’ve already mentioned is probably the best player in the world right now. On the first day he unluckily hit him in the first round, going down 0-2. During the second qualifier Jjakji easily dispatched the strategic front line of Protoss in Hush and Patience, a Protoss destined to be on top of the world with his current momentum before once again hitting INnoVation and going down 0-2. Luckily for Jjakji, INnoVation was able to win an additional round after his defeat and qualify through. Without this god-tier roadblock, Jjakji dominated his next day of play losing only a single game on his way to IEM. As long as Jjakji avoids INnoVation there’s a real chance that he could make something happen.
ByuL has been extremely quiet recently. His 2016 was not in the same universe as his record-breaking 2015, really having done nothing of note. He continues to fly under the radar going into Gyeonggi, having only played the qualifiers and not much else. It’s really hard to put any real rating or value on ByuL right now, as he just hasn’t shown that much.
Classic, as always, is being his quiet and dominating self. He’s been doing pretty well against INnoVation and herO, and didn’t lose a game smashing through the first IEM qualifier. The one thing that makes me nervous about him is that he showed up in ShoutCraft Kings against Solar, displaying a Carrier build that certainly would have been strong a week to 10 days prior, but was insanely week when he played it. Still, he is the WinToss for a reason. To Advance: Dark, easily. Classic in 2nd place. Jjakji has been looking very strong, but Classic normally doesn’t even slow his pace until at least top 4 in a tournament. ByuL is a wild unknown; will he come back in breathtaking fashion? He’s capable of it, but has shown no evidence of a triumphant return to top-Zerg status. Group D
ByuN iAsonu Maru Solar
Another crazily stacked group in a tournament of crazily stacked groups. To start off we have the 2016 World Champion and actual esports player of the year ByuN. There is no reason to think that ByuN will not continue to put out his top end play and be a real contender to win this tournament. Just this week he took down the World Cyber Arena, and continues to dominate the online cups that he enters. ByuN is turning into a real blue-chip stock as far as StarCraft pros go.
Many fans probably know the least about iAsonu, a Chinese Zerg who started to rise to prominence in 2014. He has a long string of wins and high finishes in tournaments which are not normally paid any attention to by the west, but nonetheless show a lot of skill on iAsonu’s part. He’s actually a dangerous underdog in this group, playing a different style than most in Zerg vs Terran. iAsonu defeated Bunny handily 2-0, crushing his 3 Barracks Reaper Rushes (a strategy that ByuN is particularly known for), following up with lots of upgraded Roaches and Ravagers. This type of style could have some success vs the aggressive, micro-intensive Terran duo of ByuN and Maru. Regardless, this is a very tough group, and it would be a huge deal if iAsonu was able to make it into the round of 8.
Maru had a tough 2016. Despite reigning as the King of Proleague, Maru was unable to make it deep in any of the major individual tournaments, and thus missed out on his chance to play at Blizzcon. Being on the last remaining Korean team, Jin Air Greenwings, we predictably haven’t seen Maru begin streaming or joining additional online leagues like the rest of his teamless peers. All we have to go off of for Maru right now is his qualifier run, which was one of the least pretty of any who qualified to play in this IEM. It took Maru all 3 qualifiers, losing to the near-unknown Taiwanese player Cell in round 1 of the November 26th qual, and 0-2 to Forte, a Terran regularly considered far below Maru in the 3rd round of the November 27th qual. In the very last one, Maru finally made it to the qualifying match, where he faced off of the #1 cheeser in the world, Has. In a wild series which started off with an actual Draw in game number 1, Has completely out mind-gamed Maru in their final game, looking like he would surely win his bracket. Somehow Has made the biggest throw of 2016, and Maru squeeked through. From what we’ve seen (which, admittedly isn’t much), Maru isn’t a big contender for this tournament.
Solar is on a heater. 2nd place in WCS Korea 2016 was only slowed by his poor Blizzcon showing, but since the new patch he’s looked to be in top form. Losing just one map (in a ZvZ, nonetheless) in the first IEM qualifier, Solar has recently beaten the only Zerg clearly above him in Dark, and went on a 5 win streak showcasing immense skill in ShoutCraft Kings December. I really think this is the year where Solar truly separates himself from the crowd and gets mentioned alongside the likes of Zest, Dark, INnoVation and TY. To Advance: ByuN, Solar. Maru just seem a bit below these two at the moment. iAsonu coming to Korea and making it out of this group would be a wonderful upset to start off the 2017 season with, but not one that we should expect.
All in all, this tournament is about as high end as you could hope for. With 5 days of action coming up, it’s anyone’s guess who will win. My money’s on INnoVation.
Begin the ladder session by saying to yourself, I shall meet with the arrogant player, the mule-dropper, pre-emptive GG'er, balance whiner. They do all these things by the reason of their ignorance of what is sportsmanlike and what is childish. But I, who have seen the nature of sportsmanlike behavior that is beautiful, and of the childishness that is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is like to me, not only of the same ladder or game, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the progamerness, I can neither be insulted by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is childish, nor can I be angry with my opponent, nor hate him. For we are made for cooperation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like keyboard and mouse. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is the acting against one another that is to be vexed and to turn away from.
If Marcus Aurelius played StarCraft
The ASL is starting up once again, and it’s stupidly stacked. Let me tell you who’s playing and why you are a FOOL if you do not watch this tournament. The prime of StarCraft: Brood War lasted until StarCraft 2 was released. At that point, money and talent were siphoned away from the original. It hit a very low point but never completely died, and is now reviving strongly here in Korea. This season literally looks as if we took a time machine back to the very best days of StarCraft 1. Here’s some examples:
4 of the 6 Dragons have returned.
Protoss was always underrepresented at the pinnacle of SC1 competitive play. During this time, there were 6 Protosses, nicknamed the “6 Dragons” who were head-and-shoulders above every other Protoss in the world. They were:
Bisu, Stork, free and BeSt are all in this tournament. Ridiculous.
The best 2 Zergs are both present.
The best 2 Zergs from the prime of StarCraft 1 are both here. JaeDong and EffOrt. WTF. So that means we already have 4 of the best 6 Protoss (including the actual top 2, Bisu and Stork) as well as the best 2 Zergs.
The best Gamer of all time has qualified.
And not only that, Flash is also dominating the Fish server ladder. Very few players have been able to hold their own against him so far.
The most aggressive Terran you will ever see is, surprisingly to me, back!
Lots of you will not know who Iris is, but you should. He was a fantastic Terran player that really had his own style. I always thought of him as the “Fireman Terran”…because in situations where other Terrans would run away, he would run forward. Dark Swarm comes up? Screw retreating. Stim and run through. He is a pleasure to watch. You won’t regret following this Terran.
Perhaps the “smartest” Terran is still going strong.
If there was a player I could liken to Nestea from the prime years of SC1, it would have to be Mind. His deep understanding of the game showed up brilliantly back in the day, when he dismantled Bisu who was on his way to Bonjwa status. Mind was probably my favorite Terran player (I was a Terran in SC1) of the era, even in a world with Flash and FantaSy.
StarCraft 2 Champions Return to their Roots.
Rain. Yes, that Rain. The Rain that had the most perfect defensive macro play of any Protoss in the history of StarCraft 2, was originally a SC1 player. He was an up and comer still when he switched to StarCraft 2, where he became easily one of the best of all time. He retired after winning multiple titles, but now is suddenly back to his original love, StarCraft 1.
Soulkey was already having some pretty damn good results in SC1 before going to SC2, but in SC2 he really left his mark, very notably with a reverse-all kill on INnoVation in the GSL Finals. Soulkey is killing it on the Fish server ladder, already ranked as 6th place.
Of course, the top 4 from the last ASL…
3 of these 4 were not top players before StarCraft 2 came out, but they stayed the course and have worked hard to achieve their spots amongst the elite (Last, Sharp, and the champion Eyewater AKA Shuttle). It will be interesting to see where they end up in the rankings with some serious champions returning to full activity. Sea already was a top tier Terran, and will no doubt continue to preform very well amongst the old crew.
Also, a great supporting cast…
Any player who can make it into the ASL is already one of the strongest gamers on earth, and I don’t mean to downplay these guys. GuemChi, by.hero, Movie and Light were all fantastic progamers back in the day. Many of the others were around but had less success. It takes, literally, years of being a SC1 progamer before you are even expected to begin posting results. Maybe its some of these guys’ times now. We’ll see.
You need to watch ASL. SC1 is the most mechanically challenging game on earth, and is the original creator of esports. Nothing has history like this game. If you can’t enjoy watching the best players ever battle each other in StarCraft 1, then there is no hope for you.
First I want to say that I am loving the new patch. I’ve played a bunch of games on it and am quite enjoying figuring out what feels like a new expansion sometimes. I’ve played almost exclusively Protoss in the new patch so far, so it will be through that lens. Here are some of my thoughts on things I actually got to try out some:
So, I don’t think that this is as much of a redesign as it is a nerf. I think that it’s a good thing that the Tempest is being changed as well. If you look at it’s roll in all 3 matchups, massing it can be pretty insane late game. PvPs can turn into pure Tempest vs Tempest battles, which are absolutely not fun at all, even for me. That will absolutely not happen anymore. PvT the Tempest can still be made to kill off Liberators without much change there. Before though, you could just whittle a Terran player down, constantly poking his army late game. I think it was probably pretty lame to play against as a Terran player, so it’s probably good to cut that back. Also, on the off chance that your Terran opponent went mech before this patch, Tempests countered it pretty hard. In pre-patch PvZ, Protoss could make an unbeatable army which had a backbone of Tempests in the extreme late game. Go watch some Neeb PvZs if you are unfamiliar with this.
So yeah, I think that it’s good to change the Tempest. This might have been too much though. The combination of greatly decreased range vs ground AND +2 supply makes it completely unmassable (a good thing). Really it’s the range vs ground that was the problem vs everything pre-patch, and that’s probably still the case. I don’t think that the gigantic increase in supply is really called for right now. The Tempest will only be a support unit, and to have to eat up that much supply is pretty wild for a support unit like this.
The new ability “Disruption Blast” I haven’t been able to play around with much. Since it’s a support-unit now, I haven’t been in charge of when I make them (it’s for my opponent to get advanced ballistics or brood lords before I make them). When I have used Disruption Blast, I felt that the “low” range (lol 10 range is low? wtf? well it is when you have such an expensive flying unit casting for…) and slow cast time (…forever) made it pretty tough to get results with. My current thoughts are maybe it will find a place as a zoning tool or perhaps it will be useful vs mech, such as siege tanks and thors. Still withholding judgement, though it feels like it will be a while before people have it figured out.
Adept Shades Go Blind
It’s really, really hard to scout with Adepts right now. Like… really hard. I understand the thought that the decreased vision will make Adept attacks extremely risky to pull off (just keep your units right out of their vision range and kill them when they shade in), but I really thought the Adept in the early game had a great place like the Reaper, just to get you some scouting intel while giving you something to possibly do a teensy bit of damage with. The scouting is greatly missed for Protoss right now. It will take everyone some time to get used to I think.
They feel like SC1 Carriers a lot more. A bit risky to make, but pay off well. Huge damage. Fun to use. Very much enjoying them. I think there will be a lot of whining about the Carrier in the next few weeks, but that’s just because people have to get used to them being used a lot. They feel extremely strong at the moment. Everyone needs more time before we figure out exactly how strong they will end up being. My guess is quite strong.
SC1 Siege Tanks
Yep, that’s what they feel like when being hit with them from the Protoss end of it. Really cool and really fun.
The changes on this are so massive, it feels like a completely new unit. The numbers may still need to be tweaked. I think there will be some really powerful all-ins created in the next few days which will be a pain to learn how to build. The loss of it’s strong anti-air is pretty significant. Should be lots of Stargates being built vs Terran because of this.
I do have to be a bit critical of it’s design right now. It feels bland. It’s this unit made out of your factory (thus, a “mech” unit), but it doesn’t seem that much like a mech unit. It just kinda does some set damage and has decent mobility. It seems like the combination of the Hellion / Cyclone / Widowmine in TvP mech is all together trying to replace the Vulture and Spidermine from StarCraft 1. Think about it. You make these units to harass with and stay alive while trying to get into your better units. I dunno it just makes sense to me. Weird that it takes 3 units in TvP to fulfill the roll of 1 unit and an upgrade for it from SC1. Its not a perfect comparison but it feels like what’s going on.
All that being said, I am having fun playing against Cyclones so far. It’s hilarious and surprising how quickly they kill Stalkers, but with solid micro and unit positioning you can deal with them.
Just a prediction here: I think that we will see the return of Phoenix / Colossus due to this change.
Yeah, no strong opinions on anything else as of yet. If you haven’t tried the new patch yet, I definitely would recommend it. This could be the last time SC2 is shaken up this strongly, and it can be really fun discovering things on your own!
P.S,Great job to Blizzard. There will be a lot of frustrated players from all 3 races in the coming month or so, but be patient! Better understanding will evolve new counters to strong units/strategies, and the game will eventually stabilize in a place where the best player wins (as it always does).
I love the whole article, and it really reminds me of something that I read many many years ago, (I think in “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki) about learning something new. The jist of it was to study the vocabulary first. When you know and understand the vocabulary, learning the new topic becomes a lot easier. I’ve used this tactic ever since.
For instance, when I decided to start casting Heroes of the Storm, I had never played a MOBA style game before. All together I may have half-watched a couple of DOTA games from The International, and about 2 minutes of League of Legends or so. When I turned on a stream, watched a casted game, or tried to read an article, it was as if it was in a different language. So what I did was, I wrote down every single word that I was not 100% sure of the definition of (things like CC, split push, stun, root, and soooooooo many more), and then asked for friends and progamers to define them. (Thanks Sheth! S2). This greatly sped up my learning in the game, as I could actually have conversations, and break down what professionals were saying. I’ve used this same method when studying other things like financial stuff as well. Definitely would recommend using this approach to anyone.
brownbear touches upon some good points about missing vocabulary within StarCraft. For instance, there is no good way to describe the frustration of having to deal with something like a Liberator, where the Terran player just shift clicks it in to siege, and then is done with it. Of course, the defending player must actually move the Probes/Drones/SCVs, and then bring units over to kill it. Upon reading this I tried to think of my own commentary and what I normally say about this exact situation. Some of the ways I describe it normally are terms such as “taxing his multitasking” or “trading army for economy” or maybe I even sometimes say something about the tempo or time gains of the situation. Definitely it’s mentioned as harassment and taking control of the game, forcing your opponent to react, using active units, etc. But there is no specific word. Am I just dancing around this specific move with concepts? Is that wrong or is that a good thing? Now I’m not saying that we should just go out and name this type of move. Just some stuff the article definitely made me think about.
One last thing that he kinda brought up, about the difficulty of the phrases used and who knows/understands them. I think that obviously this is an issue for new people entering the scene. I think it’s an issue everywhere, though. As an example, I recently became quite interested in Tennis. I was reading some stuff about it and had to look up things like “second serve” and a few others. I guess growing up I just wasn’t subjected to enough of the sport as a kid to have the built in knowledge of all the lingo, whereas I definitely was subjected to enough in Basketball, and would never have to look up a word or phrase. Esports is kind of similar. If you’ve played and watched some StarCraft, you are going to understand the lingo. If not, it’s going to be a lot harder. But what about the fact that we just don’t have words for everything yet? I guess as new technologies and feats of skill occur in sports, they occasionally have to add a word or phrase to the vocabulary of the game. Meanwhile over here in esports, we started from scratch much more recently. As understanding deepens, as concepts are discussed, we are slowly but surely filling in these holes with words.
A very well thought out and written article. Very much looking forward to the next one. Again, we need more really well made content like this within this beautiful genre :D
Any time that I see a new variant to an old build pop up in professional StarCraft 2, it immediately makes me think of the awesome ways in which this strategy came about. From there I always start thinking abut the lessons that can be taught about the basics and fundamentals of RTS by using this new strategy or build as an example. It’s hard to make a concrete article about such things, especially since the meta moves along so quickly. So yeah, with all that in mind, here’s a little series of articles that I will put up from time to time. meta ramblings. Here we go!:
Travel time across the map is one of the most important aspects of StarCraft, or any RTS, to take into consideration. It is a big part of the defender’s advantage. Think back to all the Roach vs Roach ZvZs that you have watched. One player would get an advantage and start attacking his opponent. Eventually his opponent (the defender) would take the advantage in this attack, despite starting at a deficit. This is mostly based off of the proximity of the defender’s rallying units vs the distance of his opponent’s units. Another good example of travel time in ZvZ would be Mutalisk vs Roach. The Mutalisk player would prefer to not have creep (and might even pick off tumors) whereas the Roach player absolutely needs the have creep. The creep will reduce the travel time of the Roaches across the map, whereas the Mutas are unaffected. Pretty basic stuff, but very powerful if understood and executed upon. So now I want to talk about a new build order that has just popped up that is completely based off of understanding travel time and how it affects the game. PvP has a pretty solved early game. 90%+ of professional games open up with 2 Gateways which make either Adepts or Stalkers. From there it can branch off into a lot of different ways, but at least this beginning part is just about as standard as can be. (little aside: the only other stuff you will see with any real regularity at the pro level would be very map specific. for instance, on Dusk Towers, because of the ease of expanding to your back natural, you will see all manner of builds with 1 gate or whatever. On Frost you will see Nexus First sometimes, as it gives a big advantage probably 2/3rds of the time. The strategy that I’m talking about was engineered for the more standard types of maps that we have, such as Frozen Temple, King Sejong Station, etc. That’s not to say that it can’t be used on other maps, just that it’s full power is on these “standard” 2 player maps.)
GET TO THE BUILD TOSIS.ok ok. SO. This build has been pioneered by the Afreeca Freecs (at least in televised games). Oops, time for a little side story again. So sorry! We see a lot of styles and strategies rise suddenly within teams. If the lead player of a race on a team starts to play a certain way and find success, often times the players below him will follow suit. For instance, GuMiho’s Tank style in TvP was picked up by the rest of MVP, and it was heavily showcased in one night of Proleague (wrote an article partly pertaining to this here: https://t.co/orAhcAH54U). It was created as a way to combat the heavy Gateway style of Zest, who passed it on to the rest of the KT Protosses. Look at Trust, for instance. He is a mini-Zest, hair and all. He’s pretty deadly too, considering how sharply he has Zest’s style and build down in PvT. Helps to sit next to him, eh? (I kind of think of them as the big zombie that carries and throws the little zombie in Plants vs Zombies. Trust won’t win the GSL, but he will fuck up your sunflowers if you aren’t careful).
OK, seriously now, back to what this is actually supposed to be about. The Afreeca Protosses. Super and Patience. These guys have debuted a new opener in PvP that is really cool, and I think has a lot of potential as it becomes a bit more refined.
Super showed it vs Classic in game 1 on King Sejong Station during SSL Group C. I suggest you read the rest of this first and then watch the VODs, but here’s the link anyways: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8l423_-8nVw
sOs did a lighter shade of this vs Zest on Frozen Temple during the Proleague Finals: https://www.twitch.tv/esl_sc2/v/80942494?t=00h23m05salthough the bridge between what the Afreeca Protosses did and what sOs did is kind of like the line between what sOs did and expanding “pretty fast”. Nothing’s written in stone in StarCraft, and builds blend into each other based upon safety, greed, feel, etc. Builds are finger painting. As soon as a drop of green goes into your orange, your orange isn’t exactly orange anymore, is it? But it still looks pretty damn orange.
SERIOUSLY HERE IS WHAT IT IS:As I said above, the very beginning of PvP is mapped out very well on more standard maps. 2 Gates, make a couple units, (Adepts or Stalkers), then the build diverges. Before the units get out, you have a Probe in their base generally that sees that yes, in fact, they are doing exactly what you are doing.
So, what Super and Patience have done is to combine this opening with the fastest Nexus possible, without opening up any obvious holes in their early game.
Here are the main points of their play:
- Same build order until unit production begins.
- Still scouting with Probe to see if anything is off (this is important, they can easily back out of their plans if anything is amiss).
- Get Mothership Core right away. Start Zealots in your gateway. (this is important, everything will look perfectly normal to the scouting Probe).
- Mothership Core will make sure the Probe has no idea what you are doing, it has to run.
- Cancel whatever was in your Gateways. Build a Nexus.
- Immediately start 2 Stalkers.
YEAH! So back to travel time. 2 Adepts immediately made by your opponent (which are faster than Stalkers, so that’s the time stamp you are looking at), shading across the map, will arrive as your 2 Stalkers are popping out. Thus you have a Mothership Core and 2 Stalkers to defend against them. Your opponent’s build is most likely “normal”, as he scouted yours which looked completely normal. Because of the across map travel time, the 2 additional units that your opponent has on you will not give any real advantage unit-wise to him until Warpgate is done. By then you will have a lot more to work with, like defensive pylons, and only a couple units less (most likely) than your opponent.
This is a really cool build / strategy which Patience and Super have shown us. They have figured out a tricky, well hidden, and quite safe way to get a faster Nexus than your opponent, and it’s heavily based upon travel time. Sick City.
The game opens as commonly as you could imagine. MC takes a very standard Protoss fast expand, while scouting out the Reaper expand into tech that GuMiho has planned. Importantly, MC sneaks in a Probe that should allow him to guess that a reasonably fast 3rd CC will be on the way. Nothing really out of the ordinary.
From here, MC’s build goes as it probably would have anyways, into the ever-standard Robo/Twilight with Blink and 2 more gates. The Protoss standard from here is to pressure with Blink Stalkers while taking a 3rd base. GuMiho plants a Widow Mine that more and more Terrans have been using over the past 2 weeks as the meta stabilizes:
It’s within the path that the units will walk through, and in a semi-random location. Protoss cannot simply walk into Mordor. I mean babysit their army the whole way across the map. Also with the speed difference of Observers, there is just no way that this won’t kill a Stalker. I suggest that every Terran player does this if their reaper scouts Stalkers instead of Adepts on it’s second run-in to the Protoss base. I also suggest that Protoss players start randomizing their path a little bit more as this is growing in popularity. For instance on Dusk Towers, attack move through your opponent’s path. Anyways, of course he gets a Stalker with this.
Now this next part was pretty interesting to me from MC. MC adds a Forge before his 3rd base. Now, he’s the Boss Toss. There has to be a reason for such an early Forge here. Then I remembered who he was playing against.
GuMiho has a very specific style in TvP. He absolutely loves Siege Tank play vs Protoss.
Let’s talk about Tankivac/Marine play in TvP. After that gross little era at the beginning of Legacy of the Void where not one Terran aside from TY could reliably win vs heavy Adept play, a new style arose upon the back of Zest. The mass Gateway army, of mostly Stalkers and Adepts came to the forefront. This style, as we all know, is super-mobile, and very powerful. It is the true standard of macro PvT. SO, that means that something has to come along and challenge it in a real way. Tank/Marine is one of the best ways to do so. GuMiho is one of the real strategic leaders of Tank play in TvP. We can jump back all the way to the beginning of May to find him leading his team into the new style: (all from one night of Proleague! what a night!)
It’s not exactly the same as we see used in this game, or now in general, but these were amongst the very first professional TvP games played in Korea with the mindset of beating the Gateway-centric Protoss Army with a Tank-based force.
SO… MC has an unusually early Forge. He scouts GuMiho’s base seconds after starting it and the Observer confirms that Tanks are in production. Standard GuMiho. Let’s move on.
MC gets his 3rd Nexus started just a tad later than normal. Gets his +1 attack going quite ab it faster than normal. And gets his 4th gas certainly much faster than a normal Gateway style will. GuMiho in the meantime is just producing his Tanks, Marines, Medivacs, Upgrades. He’s on course for where he wants to be. He’s taken almost 0 damage this game so far. Even catches and kills the Prism. Looking good!(By the way, the second MC takes fire on his Prism from a Viking and realizes it, he starts another one. This is important guys. I mean just in general. Like really, seriously. This is one of the main differences between top Protosses and the best Protosses. The best will always remake that Prism immediately.)
So MC and GuMiho have their production explosions (mass Gateway//Barracks building) at about the same time. Immediately thereafter. Now, if you are following a Zest build order, you probably tried to make a 4th Nexus here before your Gateways. Oh, sorry, unless you are Zest, you are about to die to GuMiho’s first push. This is where MC’s brilliance is shown. He’s playing the player and he’s playing his scouting intel. After these Gateways, MC immediately starts a 2nd Robo and a Robotics Support Bay. And remember that Forge? +2 already on the way. Having that “aha!” moment yet? The counter to Siege Tanks has always been Colossus. Colossus play just shreds Siege Tank / Bio armies. Colossus also got a recent buff. They attack faster now. That +2 attack is a devastating upgrade for the Colossus. From here we will need to fast forward a bit. Harassment occurs on both sides. This is normal. Both of them just added on their production for their 3 base economies. To attack now before that production kicks in would be silly, so harassment is the name of the game. Trying to get some damage, keep your opponent busy while you power up. Lots of little scuffles, etc. Here’s an important part: MC is NOT in a rush to get his 4th base up. Zest would be mining from it at full saturation right now, but MC is just chilling on 3 bases. In fact, GuMiho’s 4th will finish before MC’s will even start. MC’s only focus right now is to not bleed off any army until he has his 4 Colossus out. Why? Because he’s going to be at a huge advantage army-wise.
so close so close!
OK, here we go!
Both players are maxed with the same army supply and worker counts. Yes, some of GuMiho’s army is on the way still, and yes he has 2 more Armor upgrades than the Boss Toss, but trust me, none of that matters here. MC has out strategized him fully.
Now, MC does win the battle. He beats up GuMiho pretty hard here, but he makes a mistake that ends up costing him.
MC shades onto the bio army which runs way back. Great move from GuMiho running back there by the way. GuMiho still has some units in the front, and that’s what the Colossus are firing upon. That is a metric shit-ton of damage that those four +2 Attack Colossus are outputting onto a Siege tank and a Marauder or two. In the mean-time, the entire “tanking” (read, damage-soaking) portion of his army is battling a Marine/Marauder/Medivac army that has 2 more upgrades than it does. MC wins the battle, yes, but loses many Adepts. Maybe this is a move to try and prevent GuMiho from getting out with any of his units, but it comes into contrast with MC’s next move.
MC immediately counter-attacks here. He killed GuMiho’s army, so seems OK, right? It doesn’t go well. MC loses absolutely everything. All his Colossus perish here. The problem is, GuMiho is of course not going to continue on Siege Tank production. Marine/Marauder is now going to be the damage-dealing bulk of his army. MC has just lost all of his damage-soaking Adepts, and is counter attacking with a very, very soft army. A solid spread of Marine/Marauder crush through the Stalkers and make quick work of the unprotected Colossus. MC thought he had kill potential, but it cost him the game.
From here GuMiho wins pretty easily with lots of solid drop harassment.
Overall, I think that MC played a brilliant game.Just 1-2 mistakes ended up costing him a game that I think he was far more prepared for than GuMiho was. He played the player, he scouted and did an awesome counter-strategy. I will definitely be adding this to my arsenal. And you should too.
if you are looking for some more Colossus PvT games, check out these:
Q. SK has consistently protected their spot as the best team throughout the first round. What is SKT T1’s secret to maintaining such a good record all the time?
soO: First, all the teammates work hard. Especially Innovation, who is sitting next to me, really held his own for the team getting 5wins in the first round. I think that’s why our team is in first place.
INnoVation: Same for me, soO hyung got 4 wins for us (laugh) so I think that’s why we’re getting such a good record.
Q. It has been decided that you will be playing Jin Air in the finals. What was your first reaction to hearing this news?
soO: I always thought that we were stronger than Jin Air so I was thankful that they beat KT, and I thought, ‘Looks like we’re going to win the championship again.’
INnoVation: I also feel more comfortable playing Jin Air than KT… (laugh). I was relieved.
I wanted to write a quick little blog post about a trend we are seeing in TvT right now. Early on, I very much liked the 2 base TvT style using Marine / Tank / Medivac. Keep aggressive, utilize those mobile tanks, and float your main CC to your 3rd base when you are ready. Recently I’ve begun to change my opinion on the strength of this opener recently, though…at least on some maps.
Both games have one player going for a Reaper expand (Reality and INnoVation) into an expansion, with a tech follow-up. Definitely a great opener and a very popular one as well.
Both games also have the challenger (Cure, Maru) opening up with 1 base tech involving some amount of harassment. This includes Cloaked Banshees in both games.
OK, so let me run you through the next steps for each side:
Early Game Defender (the player with the faster expansion, Reality and INnoVation)
- Produce Vikings, Tanks for Defense
- Add on one Engineering Bay for upgrades (2 doesn’t make sense for a build going for 2 base aggression)
- Add Barracks to utilize your swell in minerals from having an earlier expansion
Early Game Aggressor (the player with the faster tech, Cure and Maru)
- Harass as much as possible with early tech units
- Add on 2 Command Centers to make up for how much faster opponent had first one
- Add on 2 Engineering Bays for upgrades (1 doesn’t make sense for a build with a 3 base economy)
OK, so stick with me here. As the early harassment is fended off, the early upgrades of the fast expander start to come online, and the mineral advantage from the faster base starts to pay off in the form of additional Marines, the roles of these players within the game swaps.
Reality and INnoVation become the Mid Game Aggressors
and, of course,
Cure and Maru become the Mid Game Defenders
OK, here we are in the mid game. Time for some damage put on to those early tech into 3 CC players! Let’s take a look at the Unit tabs, both of these screen shots taken seconds before the fighting begins:
CURE (RED)vsREALITY (BLUE)
Notice the important differences:
- Cure has a higher SCV count, as he’s made the 3rd CC and is pushing ahead in economy.
- Reality has more Marines (23 more at this moment), as he’s made the earlier expansion, and thus gained extra minerals, which go into Marines, strengthening his army.
- They have the same amount of Siege Tanks.
MARU (RED)vs INNOVATION (BLUE)
Notice the important differences:
- Maru has a higher SCV count, as he’s made the 3rd CC and is pushing ahead in economy.
- INnoVation has more Marines (21 more at this moment), as he’s made the earlier expansion, and thus gained extra minerals, which go into Marines, strengthening his army.
- They have the same amount of Siege Tanks.
Natural differences according to the opening build orders that they used. The important part to look at is the Siege Tank count. The Siege Tank is the most important unit in TvT, and if one player has an advantage on them, that player is likely to have an advantage in the game itself. It makes sense that the Siege Tank count is lined up. One player in each game did, in fact, get earlier tech buildings. These buildings were used for early game harassment units though, not for Siege Tanks. Around the time that the faster expander starts Siege Tanks, the tech player is pretty much ending his production of harassment based units and is starting Siege Tanks as well. So here we are with the same amount of Siege Tanks on both sides.
While it’s definitely true that Legacy of the Void’s addition of Medivacs picking up Siege Tanks made them much better at attacking than before, as professionals get better and better, they understand how to utilize defender’s advantage with them as well. Being on the defensive here, on many maps, is going to be a position which is doable for a professional. This extra boost in Marine count, while it obviously makes your army stronger, doesn’t mean that you can get in through an entrenched position. Reality vs Cure is a great example of this. It almost doesn’t matter how many Marines that Reality has, if they try to walk through Lerilak Crest’s tiny chokes, they are going to be blown up before their greater numbers matter.
The thing is, the 2 base player -has- to do something. This is the “power spike” of his build. This is when he has an advantage. Backing off and making a later 3rd CC is not going to catch you up that well. Your opponent also has an additional Engineering Bay, and thus will be well ahead on upgrades when he’s ready to move out.
So now that I’ve told you that the 2 base player -has- to do something, I’m going to go back on that, and show that this is is where INnoVation went wrong in his game.
When INnoVation was ready for his attack, he scanned the 3rd base area. Maru hadn’t even landed his 3rd CC yet! Now, Ruins of Seras is a very different map from Lerilak Crest. On Lerilak Crest, Cure was able to build his CC at his 3rd base and mine from it instantly, as it’s back in a pocket with a choke with destructible rocks in front of it. Ruins of Seras has a much more wide open 3rd base. It has a lot of angles that you can attack from. In his game vs Maru, INnoVation was not detoured from Maru’s lack of a 3rd base. INnoVation (rightly) realized that he had an advantage at this point in the game, and he (wrongly) decided to push that advantage at the moment of it’s greatest power (unit-count wise) over Maru. INnoVation pulled an old-school MarineKing here. He dropped into a defensive 2 base player. There was no need. Maru’s build -requires- that he is mining from a 3rd base to properly have an advantage in the later stages of the game. With such an army disadvantage, Maru had no chance of taking his 3rd base with INnoVation’s massive army right outside his door, especially with the amount of attackable surface area that Ruins of Seras’s 3rd base has.
If we super simplify this, there are three periods, with the players taking different risks in each.
If the tech opener (Cure, Maru) don’t do damage in the early game, they are taking the risk of taking damage in the mid game. But then they get another opportunity to hurt their opponents in the late-mid game.
The expand opener (Reality, INnoVation) are taking two risks if we continue this forward. Early game they must defend well (not too hard) and not take too much damage. They then have an opportunity in the mid-game to deal damage. If they do not deal sufficient damage, they are behind in the late-mid game against their opponents who have additional upgrades and economy.
The real pressure in these games was on Reality and INnoVation to get some damage done during the window of their advantage.
in defense of flying siege tanks and why legacy of the void is so damn good.
Flying Siege Tanks. Keep it in.
I have TOO MANY thoughts on this to put down on paper. This is going to be all over the place. Here we go with my feeble attempt:
ARGUMENT #1: MECH
I doubt anyone loves mech more than me. Pretty sure its an unhealthy obsession.
TvP and MechTerran vs Protoss mech in SC1 is one of my favorite things ever. Building up the Most Powerful Unit Composition In The Game ®, a composition where each individual unit is very weak, but as you defend well and work your way to higher supplies, you gain power. In the early game, you are normally on the defense. You must quickly rush up your tech tree and defend carefully, one misstep will spell disaster. Slowly but surely, you push the map. You constantly reposition your army in response to your opponent’s unit movements. You have actual fronts which you must reinforce like in a real war. Eventually when you smell weakness, you unsiege and make a big move, whether it’s a killing move or just gaining more ground. You protect your flanks. You push the map. You zone out areas with cost effecient setups that deter enemy movement in that area. During all this you are harassing, trying to hurt your opponent any way you can, all while not using too many of your units, which would make your main defensive army too weak. It is a defensive playstyle where you are weak early in the game, but become stronger and stronger, eventually wearing your opponent down.
SC2 Wings of Liberty and SC2 Heart of the Swarm Terran has more of a Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie) feel. You are super mobile, dropping all over the place, utilizing multitasking and tactics to find or force holes into your opponent’s play.
ANYWAYS, people are concerned, I guess, about the lack of mech strategies being used in Legacy of the Void right now. From Blizzard:
“Currently in the game, Terran bio-play can have the fire power of Siege Tanks without sacrificing mobility. This seems to be a main reason to play bio instead of mech. By removing this ability (picking up Siege Tanks in Siege Mode with a Medivac), and giving more strength to the Siege Tank, we wonder if we can have this clear distinction between the two playstyles appear once again.”
Mech doesn’t have to necessarily mean “an army composed of only mechanical units”. It just so happens that when the phrase was invented, the units being used were all mechanical. Mech is more of a playstyle than anything.
This game consisted of TY desperately trying to hold on vs an incredibly aggressive Protoss player. TY slowly but surely pushed out into the map, taking more bases. He defended his flanks. He moved his army in accordance with his enemy, defending where he pushed. He set up zones that would be very difficult to attack to deter Patience from attacking certain areas. Over time TY’s Liberator count grew and grew, and his entrenched positions become stronger and stronger. This game definitely felt to me more like mech than anything I’ve seen in a long time.
TvT and Mech
It’s hard to liken TvT in SC1 to SC2 in the same way I did above for TvP, and that’s because TvT was always mech vs mech, with the power of Siege Tanks reigning supreme. TvT was a positional game, taking a conceding certain areas around the map, setting up areas that would be impossible to attack. I don’t think that this is what Blizzard or the fans are looking for. Rather, I think that people are looking for the choice between bio and mech, and then, of course, the clash between the two, as we had in WoL and HotS. Well then, you are in luck!
To date, this is the only professional Korean game where we’ve seen a full-on mech strategy in a TvT in LotV. Journey successfully went up to 4 bases, defending all aspects of Keen’s bio-centric play. He ended up losing when both were going more heavily into Sky Terran with a poor attack and over-committal. It wasn’t a perfect game or anything, but it was certainly the first step towards a more diverse set of armies being available for use in TvT. Don’t forget that developing less aggressive styles takes MUCH, MUCH longer than aggressive styles.
TvZ and Mech
This one is really complicated. Not going to bring up SC1 at all. Rather going to bring up HotS mech TvZ, because that has a lot to do with what’s going on here in LotV.
Mech was becoming a real problem towards the end of HotS for Zerg. Without the Swarm Host to constantly push back Terran in long games, turtle mech became super powered.
Here’s a statement for you: If Parasitic Bomb existed in HotS, Byul would be a GSL champion. Not to mention that Point Defense Drone is vastly changed. And Nydus Worms open up no matter what. And I haven’t even gotten into the differences in the cores of HotS and LotV. Ok, maybe we should talk about that next.
ARGUMENT #2: Legacy of the Void is completely different from Heart of the Swarm. We’re playing StarCraft 3, folks.
In early January, I started writing a blog post about why Legacy of the Void is so good. It felt incomplete, and didn’t quite cover my feelings completely, as I’m still figuring it all out, so I never posted it. But here it is, as it is a good supplement to what I’m about to write:
“There’s always been an argument about StarCraft 1 and StarCraft 2. Which is better? Which is more fun? Which was better balanced? Which is a better eSport. I’ve written and said a lot in the past about these subjects, so I won’t go into much depth about them here. But I needed to bring this up to show why Legacy of the Void is so damn good.
StarCraft 1 is a game of mechanics. You fight against the game itself to make as many units as you possibly can, while microing as well as you can with very limiting control groups. The comeback mechanic is based in how hard it is to do everything that needs doing. If you get behind in a Terran vs Protoss, for instance, and the Protoss has 5 bases, while you are stuck on 3, you might decide that to come back you need a Dropship. Yes, Protoss has way more bases and is in a leading position, but that means that his economy is more spread out, and thus more susceptible to harassment. By sending out a Dropship in one direction, and Vultures in another, you can start to pick apart the leading player. Some nice laying of mines in front of a far - off base to slow down incoming defensive units will buy you some time to kill Probes. Meanwhile the Dropship will hit another area far away, splitting Protoss’s attention.
StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm are games of strategy. NesTea was the first person I heard verbalize this. In essence, he said, that SC2 was about decision making. He was absolutely right. It’s very much about knowing your decision trees. The player who understands more should win based off of knowing what to do next. In WoL and HotS, the comeback mechanics were based off of understanding the next branch of what to do. Here’s an example:
You are Zerg. You got way ahead with the army-crushing unit composition of Infestor / Ling / Ultra.
If you choose to attack and kill your opponent, go to option A).
If you choose to sit back and wait for your opponent to leave, go to option B).
A) Your Ultras get their AI messed with due to smart building placements and deal no damage for their cost. Your lings shuffle in to attack almost single file. Your Infestors throw out useless Infested Terrans because they do not keep up with your army for an attack, and then die. Your opponent now can come back.
B) Your opponent continues to try to harass you around the map. You easily clean up each attack with Fungals, Lings, and a bit of static defense. Eventually your opponent leaves his safe area, and you get a decent engagement with your expensive Ling / Ultra / Infestor army. He shouldn’t have come onto your Creep. GG you win!
Yeah, its a bit over simplified, but there are thousands of examples just like these on how comebacks actually occur. (and yes there are exceptions to both games and all these situations.)
Now this, of course, doesn’t mean that SC1 is a better game than SC2 or anything like that. This is one small aspect of the game. According to this one aspect, SC1 was, in general terms, very taxing on your speed. This was partially due to the fact that you were very spread out, and thus your opponent had more places to attack. SC2 was more about making correct decisions with the correct units to lock your opponent out of any possibility of winning. I think that most of the arguments from people that SC1 was/is a better game than SC2 were based, in some way, over this difference in the two. As someone who personally has been there for the full life of both games, I can certainly say that I derived a lot of pleasure from that "overstretched” feeling while playing SC1.
Legacy of the Void gives me that feeling again. I feel like there’s too much to do. I feel like there are endless areas for improvement of play. I feel like perfect games are forever away. And it feels amazing.“
One of the hardest things to do as a commentator is to take what I think in my head and summarize it so it doesn’t become ridiculously long like this brain spill of a blog you are reading right here. Here’s a new attempt to try to summarize some of the key differences between Legacy of the Void and Heart of the Swarm:
Legacy of the Void has improved harassment AND improved defender’s advantage. 3 basing in LotV = 2 basing in HotS. This isn’t just because of having less economy per base. That does something else that I’ll talk about in a minute. Lots of units in LotV are amazing at defending but harder to attack with.
Adepts are fantastic at harassment. They also do quite well defending. Think about a Terran trying to drop a Protoss. If Adepts are there, you may as well not bother. Trying to finish off a Terran with an army heavily depending on Adepts in is very difficult. (yes I know that there are timing attacks specifically with adepts, that’s not what I’m talking about). For a big army using Adepts as the tanking units, their short range makes you walk into your opponent’s defensive position. Attacking into Planetaries, Liberators, Widow Mines, Marine/Maruader arcs, Lurkers, Roach/Hydra arcs are all cost inefficient with the Adept. It’s a better move to utilize them in another way.
Oracles are a great harassment unit. We know that already. In LotV their ability to tag armies is being used more and more. This is often used in a defensive way: monitoring where the army is so that it cannot catch you off guard with an attack. Stasis Wards are also gaining increased usage, slowing down enemy attacks. The Oracle is a very good defensive unit.
Disrupters are good harassment units. It’s kind of like a Reaver Drop. Very expensive, but can gain huge rewards if done well. Moreso, Disrupters are strong defensive units. How many PvPs have you seen where one Protoss gets way ahead of his opponent and tries to end the game, only to be hugely punished by defensive Disurpters? Now conversely, how many times have you seen a Protoss trying to attack into a player of any race with Disrupters, and having that player dodge every shot? The player who is attacking is committing, thus making the defensive Disrupter extremely strong. The player who is defending is reacting. Being like water, as Bruce Lee would say. Wax on, wax off, as Mr. Miyagi would say. The Disrupter is not nearly as strong on the offense as the defense.
Lurkers are about as good defense as you can find. Breaking a strong Lurker Defense is literally not worth the time and energy. You may as well go around. It is a no-man’s land. Yet, if you try to attack with the Lurkers, it’s much like the Disrupters. Your opponent will continually kite and move out of the way of these Lurkers.
Liberators are in the exact same boat as the Lurkers in the defense / offense comparison. Of course, they are very good harassment tools as well.
Widow Mines are the same.
Cyclones are great defensive units. One of the strongest ways to keep a Warp Prism or Medivac or Banshee or Oracle out of your base.
Ghosts, High Templars, Infestors. All MUCH easier to use successfully defensively when your opponent is attacking you.
You are going to force your way through this choke? Yes, please walk through my Corrosive Biles.
Oh you’re dropping my main? It’s OK, I have a DT there. Have fun scanning every time you drop. Of course, DTs are amazing at harassment also. Ever try to attack directly into an army with DTs? Yeah. No.
The list goes on and on. There are so many harassment options. So many units function better defensively than offensively. (NOTE: I’m talking offensively for game winning moves which involve actual armies, not harassment. Also note: YES, you can attack with all of these units, and in fact, some of the most powerful attacks will involve them. It’s just not easy. They pay off quicker defensively.)
So yes, the defender’s advantage (in Army vs Army) is much larger in LotV than ever before. If you kill someone when you are on 3 bases, its because harassment went way too right, or you have a powerful timing attack that your opponent is not ready for. Thus, 3 basing LotV = 2 basing HotS.
OK, back to this: less economy per base.
So, we have improved harassment. We have improved defender’s advantage. But we also have less economy. We have to expand more. This is absolutely KEY to why LotV is so good. You are forced, more quickly than ever, to expand if you want to win. You can’t sit on 3 bases defending perfectly a'la Rain’s HotS Protoss. We already went over how killing on 3 bases is basically the same thing as 2 basing in HotS. So here we are, expanding more quickly to a 4th base. This spreads us out more. Sure, we have GREAT ways to defend vs a large army. We have Disrupters and Lurkers and Liberators which make death traps for anyone wanting to attack. These units are extremely weak vs harassment though. Have you ever tried to stop a Medivac Drop with a Disrupter or a Lurker or a Liberator? Laugh Out Loud.
So we can’t really just roll over each other, even if we have a bigger army. And we are forced to expand further and further out earlier and earlier. Which of course means, we have less and less to defend these areas with. Truthfully, we have better tools for harassing our opponents than for defending against their harassment.
OK, let’s put this all together. Legacy of the Void forces us to harass more. It forces us to have a more mobile army. LotV resists against full-on mech play. It resists against slow games. LotV pushes us towards more fights, more engagements, more damage on both sides. The days of perfect Rain games are gone. These are the scrappy days of LotV. Siegevacs add mobility to the most immobile unit in the game. Siegevacs also turn this unit into one which can harass. The unit now fits perfectly into Legacy of the Void. Let’s not turn it into another Void Ray.
"One of the hardest things to do as a commentator is to take what I think in my head and summarize it so it doesn’t become ridiculously long like this brain spill of a blog you are reading right here. Here’s a new attempt to try to summarize some of the key differences between Legacy of the Void and Heart of the Swarm” - The ‘tosis, 2016
Hey all, just wanted to talk about tactics of a standard ZvP push real quick. Classic recently played 2 of the best Zergs in the world on Lerilak Crest, both times using the same general style. Both Zergs played against him with the same general style as well. One game Classic won, one game he lost. While there are a lot of factors in both games, in my mind the overall Zerg defeat // victory was decided by how and where they attacked with their first big Lurker push.
Just to outline the flow of the games, in both Classic goes for some Phoenixes into Charge / Storm / Immortal type of play. Very standard currently in the PvZ meta. Also, Classic, being the WinToss, knows that he must engage a Lurker based army out in front of his base. While it’s all fine and good to fight vs Roach / Hydra near your Nexus, if you do the same vs Lurkers, you are dead meat. You must make them “siege” and “unsiege” as many times as possible, whittling the army down however possible. Anyways, let’s look at the exact attacks of both players.
CURIOUS VS CLASSIC @ LERILAK CREST
- Classic makes sure to engages in front of his 4th base.
- Curious must burrow, meanwhile taking a bit of damage.
Now, DARK VS CLASSIC @ LERILAK CREST
- Classic makes sure to engages in front of his 4th base.
- Dark must burrow, meanwhile taking a bit of damage.
Similar stuff. Classic is doing the correct response of slowing both down. Both are trying to see if they can damage Classic in any way. Now let’s look tactically how Dark has made a much better move by looking at the mini-maps.
The black line with a circle on it represents one unburrow - move to get into a position to actually threaten Classic with damage. The Pinkish-Purpleish line represents where Curious can attack if he succeeds in moving to that black circle.
Once again, the black line and circle represent one unborrow move to get into a position to actually threaten Classic with damage. The Pinkish-Purpleish lines represent where Dark can attack if he succeeds in moving forward.
Dark positions his army into a position he cuts off circulation for Classic. Classic now also has to defend 3 locations.Curious, on the other hand, positions his army into a position where he can only attack forward into 1 base. This is much easier for Classic to defend against, and allows him lots of freedom with his attention.
I’m sure its easy to guess, but Curious loses his game, and Dark wins his. I just love being able to compare 2 games close in time by the same player in the same position and see where it went right or wrong, it can really crystallize understanding about a topic.
Oh, and if you wanted to check out these games (both really good ones I would recommend!), here are the YouTube links:
This Saturday at 5pm KST, something very special is happening. The greatest Protoss of all time is taking on the second best Zerg of all time. In the finals. In StarCraft 1.
Tasteless and I recently were able to cast one of the semi-finals of this league on Monday, a Zerg vs Zerg between EffOrt and Zero, and oh man was it fun. While StarCraft 2 has been going strong for about 6 years now, the focus on StarCraft: Brood War has really fallen off. Despite this, a scene has somehow remained intact in Korea, and has even grown in the past couple of years. As soon as Tasteless and I found out about AfreecaTV taking over the GSL as well as purchasing GOMTV’s old studio, we immediately began to lobby to be able to cast some good-old Brood War. Finally, Afreeca gave us the chance, and I think that it went really well. With OVER 9000 concurrent viewers, and what felt like lots of hype from SC1 and SC2 fans alike, it was a reception to English SC1 coverage that hasn’t really been seen before.
Arguments have been had countless times on which game is better, but those arguments are stupid. Both games are wonderful, beautiful games. They are easily the best 2 games ever made (and really, the only worth while RTS games in an eSports sense), and grading them against each other does a disservice to both.
Tasteless, IdrA, White-Ra, iNcontroL, Sen, myself, and so many others grew up on SC1, playing it nonstop, training all day every day as any modern progamer does, but with no realistic opportunity to do anything with it in sight. Luckily for us, SC2 came out and all the years of dedication paid off in terms of careers, but even if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have rated those 12 years of SC1 as wasted. I can honestly say that SC1 shaped me into who I am today. My friendships, my personality, my work ethic, my passion.
In an ideal world, I would love to see SC1 and SC2 co-exist side by side in the eSports world. Tasteless said something really profound to me the other day. It was to the effect of “Tosis, my son,….” oh wait, not that, he said something like “What if there was a deep, strategic game that everyone loved a thousand years ago. And what if no one knew how to play that game anymore? Wouldn’t that suck?”. Yes, it would suck.
Without SC1, eSports would not exist as it is today. Come and watch the most mechanically challenging game of all time. Bring your friends and enjoy this look into RTS history. Come and see what it looks like when an eSport is nearing 18 years old, and is being played by an absolute legend like Bisu. I promise that you will enjoy it, even if you have never seen or played a game in your life. If this is the last time that Nick I ever get to cast the game that has impacted us more than any other ever could, I for one would like to show as many people it’s beauty as possible.
The first Code A of the new year and the new expansion is upon us. With all of last season’s top 8 seeds being dropped, and only herO and MyungSiK having already qualified for the Code S ro32 via the PreSeason, the field is ridiculously stacked. With 60 players qualifying, pretty much every single top progamer made it into Code A. Here’s the closest we came to upsets:
MC, despite being retired, has maintaned his skill pretty damn well, remaining near te top of the Korean Ladder throughout Legacy of the Void. Unfortunately, he failed in the qualifiers for Code A, having lost 0-2 to Super and 1-2 to DeParture.
In a group with sOs and Reality, the next biggest name, Ryung, was unable to make it out. After losing to sOs, Ryung was only able to take a single game off of ???? (DongRaeGuling) the rising SBENU Zerg player.
If the only active top-end Korean pros really missing from Code A are Polt and Hydra who live in America, herO and MyungSiK who qualified directly into Code S, and MC and Ryung, one of which is retired and the other who hasn’t preformed well in big Korean events for years, I’d say we have a pretty amazing season ahead of us.
Out of the upcoming 30 matches, here are the ones that I’m most looking forward to:
Dream vs HyuN We haven’t gotten to see so much out of Dream in LotV yet. Being one of the still rising young guns, and one of the real stars of 2015, he’s a player you’d hope to have in Code S. HyuN, on the other hand, has been kind of grounded in Korea. A player who has really made his career on the road, HyuN will be looking to re-prove himself in Korea this year. While I would normally always give Dream an edge in this matchup, let’s not forget that HyuN has always enjoyed Roach-based armies. LotV definitely made Roach play vs Terran much more viable before. When you add in HyuN’s depth of experience, I think that he has a good shot at taking this series down. Either way it should be a close one.
GuMiho vs Dark Early in 2015, Dark was in my mind the best Zerg in the world. With unrivaled macro and a style completely his own, Dark is without a doubt someone to be feared in the late game, especially since LotV has given a boost to Zerg in this area. GuMiho, on the other hand, we all should remember for his ridiculous turtle mech play against Zerg…. a style that as of yet has not been solved in LotV. I’m not worried for him, though. If you think further back in GuMiho’s career, he was one of the first and only players to actually be harassing in 5 locations at once. Yes, he played lots of turtle mech, but he is also one of the fastest players in the world.
Bomber vs Seed Two of our very old school progamers meet each other in Code A. Bomber…well, he’s Bomber. He doesn’t need much of an introduction. Seed, though, I’d like to remind people about. Yeah, he hasn’t done much lately. Yeah, he was a Code S champion long ago. Yeah, that’s not what I’m talking about. Back in the beginning of GSL and SC2, Seed was one of the Protosses figuring things out. His creative and different play from that era has only really been surpassed by sOs. Perhaps Seed will have some new tricks up his sleeve to show us in this match.
TY vs Patience I am purely excited by this because of TY. Patience is a pretty good Protoss, but nothing spectacular or different. I expect him to play very agressive openings vs TY in this series. If he doesn’t kill a BUNCH of SCVs or out right make TY leave the game, he shouldn’t be able to make it into Code S. This match still excites me though. To see TY play LotV again is like to be reunited with the people you love most after being away for a hundred years.
Dear vs sOs !!! This match is a shame. Both players clearly belong in Code S, but only one will make it through. Dear put up a very strong showing during the GSL PreSeason. He qualified for week 1, and then beat Rogue and Jjakji in week 2 before falling to the eventual winner MyuNgSiK in a strong series in the semi finals. sOs didn’t play GSL PreSeason Week 1, but in Week 2, he lost to Armani 0-2 in the qualfier, falling out during his first match. During the Code A qualifier, sOs had a pretty easy road, but fell 0-2 to the first real obstacle in the form of Reality (who has been playing really really well to be fair). sOs also fell in the SSL qualifier 0-2 in his first match to ByuN. So having typed this all out, it looks Dear favored, right? It’s sOs in PvP though. Absolutely anything could happen.
Hurricane vs Soulkey Hurricane has been in everything so far. GSL PreSeason weeks 1 and 2, and has made it into the SSL top 16. Soulkey, looking similarly good, was in the PreSeason week 2, and the SSL top 16. I would definitely consider both of these players to be within the top 32 in the world at LotV at the moment, and it will be a sad (yet entertaining) match to watch for this reason.
Life vs Bunny Life is almost a perfect human. Perhaps the greatest player ever in SC2 alongside MVP. Countless tournament wins. Always breaking the mold with his aggressive plays. Went right top the finals vs an almost too-good herO in the GSL PreSeason Week 1. In the SSL qualifiers he barely lost, losing 1-2 to both RagnaroK and Hurricane, two players who are absolutely on fire right now. And then came GSL PreSeason Week 2, where Life faced an opponent who’s got a vicious streak a mile wide. And sharp pointy teeth. Bunny beat Life in week 2, followed by Losira, until he lost to TY, perhaps the best player currently. This one could really be close. Will Life fail to make it into Code S?
Leenock vs Jaedong What wouldn’t I give to see one of these two crush this season? The list is short. Flash is retired. Bisu is retired. FantaSy is retired. JangBi is retired. EffOrt is retired. Only Jaedong and Stork (kinda) remain.
Maru vs Zest !!! With one of these guys not making it into Code S, I feel like I should be asking for a refund. Sadly, GSL is free this year :( At least this will be a ridiculous match. Hopefully Maru is doing a bit better in time for it.
INnoVation vs Stork INnoVation finally going to be televised in LotV! How will he have adapted? More importantly, STORK! One of the few remaining gods from SC1, and now a playing coach, I’m always excited to see Stork in official TV matches. His high-level experience is far beyond anyone else’s aside from Jaedong, and now that he’s a coach, he will have a fresh perspective on how to play. Expect awesome builds but not necessarily wins in this match.
And think, there are 20 more matches to watch on top of all of these. It’s going to be a good season of Code A :D
PartinG’s 2nd place, followed up by Rain’s victory in the GSL Code S, are very important moments in StarCraft history. StarCraft has basically always been completely (as in 100%) dominated by KeSPA teams, but suddenly, the hardest tournament in the world has players who have been off of those teams for a reasonable amount of time doing well. I think that there are a lot of factors that contribute to why this has occurred, and I’d like to try and explain them. Of course, we have to also take into consideration the fact that both of these players, despite not being on KeSPA teams, retain plenty of friends and practice partners who are.
The Korean Ladder One of the big reasons for the ability of players outside of KeSPA teams to be able to bring their level up so high, is the ridiculously high quality of the Korean Ladder. While in StarCraft 1, every professional played Game-i, GameBugs, and eventually ICCup, they weren’t really that important, and not used for top-level practice. What then, has led to this difference?
1. Blizzard’s forced rotation of actual tournament maps. This is a pretty big deal. Blizzard has, overall, kept the map pool relevant with the same (or a very close) representation of the current professional map pool. Forced compliance with maps has made the ladder worthwhile to find new strategies on new maps, something that the StarCraft 1 ladders never had. Instead, people played old favourites, like Lost Temple and Python, for years after they had rotated out of the professional scene. That would be like if we still had Metalopolis and Daybreak daily. A waste of time for any professional.
2. The difference between the first StarCraft 2 professional teams and KeSPA teams. The beginning StarCraft 2 teams were run very, very differently than KeSPA teams. They were all start-ups without the rigorous training systems that the KeSPA teams had in place. While many of those KeSPA teams would have specific schedules for who would play vs who, as well as when Ladder would be allowed, the new StarCraft 2 teams were much more lax. Ladder became an important part of practice.
3. The head start of the non-KeSPA pros. When the KeSPA teams started to go over to StarCraft 2, they were well behind their counterparts who had already been playing for a couple of years or so. You can’t practice in the vacuum of your own team house when there are hundreds of players with much more experience on the ladder. It just wouldn’t make sense.
4. KeSPA teams are smaller than ever before. Remember back when we lost a few KeSPA teams, and the rosters were downsized greatly? That was actually good for the game. With so few players on each team, you simply cannot cover everything with your tiny roster. There will be play styles and ideas missing from in-house practice.
StarCraft 1 vs StarCraft 2, or, Mechanics vs Strategy Let me get this out of the way: StarCraft 2 is more strategic than StarCraft 1. Both are RTS (Real Time Strategy) games, but they have different emphasises. SC1 is a Real Time Strategy game, and SC2 is a Real Time Strategy game.
SC1 is a game of speed and mechanics. Yes, there is a lot of strategy, of course, but it is certainly secondary to being able to make as many units as possible and to move those units in the right way.
SC2 is a game of strategy. Yes, there are lots of mechanics and speed required, of course, but those are much less punishing than making incorrect strategic choices.
(In fact I feel like putting a gigantic aside here in these ( things what ever they are called. Lots of people from StarCraft 1 complain about the “problems” with StarCraft 2. Now for the record, not one of these people loved SC1 more than I. Anyways, lots of the complaints have to do with the missing beauty of things like perfect Mutalisk Micro, or the perfect Reaver Drop, or the fun of microing Vultures. These things are beautiful, and there’s nothing quite like them in SC2. But, if SC2 had come first, there would be people complaining that SC1 lacks the deeper strategy that SC2 offers. These strategic choices that people are making have their own beauty…beauty which can be pretty hard to see. End of aside.)
(Oh, by the way, here’s a second aside. Part of the reason why SC2 is so strategic is the hard counters. The units we love to hate, the Marauder, the Roach and the Immortal actually themselves add a whole different type of depth that just doesn’t exist in SC1. These units truly punish you for poor moves or decisions, in ways nothing from SC1 ever could. There’s a lot more to the strategic depth than those of course, just a fun little side point I wanted to make.)
The deeper strategic aspect of SC2 plays into why Rain and PartinG can preform so well without the backing of a KeSPA team for multiple reasons.
The first is pretty straight forward. There’s such a multitude of different strategies, with so much variation in the meta game, that the ladder is actually useful. Radically new approaches for matchups are constantly popping up all over the place. These strategies move most quickly through the ladder environment. By playing ladder you are exposed to every single pro, as well as amateur thought which moves up the ranks.
The second is kind of related to what is written above. Once you have become a top level progamer, you already have acceptable mechanics. You can’t get there otherwise. In SC1, a lot of winning was about practicing with the best. If Sea[Shield] can get 11 more Marines than the average top Ladder player by the 12 minute mark, then you will literally never beat him by practicing on the ladder. On the contrary, in SC2, if you know your opponent is going Roaches, it doesn’t matter if he has 12 or 17 in the mid game push quite as much, because you are taking the fight in a choke with Immortal tech and Forcefields.
What I’m trying to say here is, it is far more important to be in the top 95% of macro players and know all the different reactionary branches of your build orders, than to be in the top 99.9% of macro players and have a general idea of what to do.
I wrote a previous blog containing my initial thoughts after just 1 day of playing the LotV beta. I have now talked about LotV with many people, played it a ton, watched it a whole lot, and thought and theorized about it endlessly. I thought I’d go ahead and give my updated perspective before we get the first patch.
I’ve spent my entire time on LotV so far with Protoss, so sorry in advance for a lack of TvZ, TvT and ZvZ talk. As I have more time in a few weeks I’ll focus more on learning what’s going on in those matchups.
I’d like to cover several large, overlapping areas here. Sorry if it rambles some, I’m just trying to channel my thoughts onto the page.
I have gone as far as to say both in the GSL and on Twitter, that the Adept is the best designed unit in LotV. It was much to my shock to hear that lots of people were complaining about the Adept. I think the reason why there is discontent about the Adept, is because it’s not very useable at this current moment. It is universally agreed upon that Terran and Zerg are stronger than Protoss in this current build of the beta, so this shouldn’t come as any surprise. Because it seems to be a harass - focused unit, and every Protoss is doing everything in their power to just stay alive vs Cyclones and Ravagers, of course we aren’t seeing it used.
That has literally no bearing on how well designed this unit is, or how good it could be for the game. Let’s think about this unit and what it does for a moment. It’s harass based. It’s Gateway tech, which means that it can be warped in. People are likening it to the Reaper, which is pretty fair for this moment, as that’s about what it can be used for. There is so much potential for this unit. It is going to be such a hard unit to use correctly. Think about the decisions of the Adept:
Do I chase the Adept itself or its teleportation ghost thing?
Do I close my wall off to prevent the ghost thing to get in, or do I let it in to trap it?
Do I get out an Adept for some fast scouting? Or use that build time for another unit?
Here are some cool things that I’ve been thinking about with Adepts:
They could easily be dropped from a Warp Prism for harassment instead of Zealots. They shred mineral lines very quickly.
With their upgrade, last-hit micro now exists in SC2.
I’ve been using an Adept to peak up a Terran ramp and then get away.
While an Adept’s ghost is out traveling, you can guard a ramp or take a Watchtower with the Adept itself.
Adepts are good at chasing down fleeing units.
Just because you can’t go Adepts right now while Ravagers and Cyclones are pounding you does not mean that the unit sucks or is trash. It’s going to take a long time to flesh out this unit completely. The design is great, and the possible skill-cap is ridiculously high on it. Definitely the type of unit that will be cool and exciting to watch and play.
I kind of like the design of the unit, to be honest. It’s a really cool idea. The numbers need to be tweaked though, I think. The design of Force Field and how that effects Protoss unit stats makes the Ravager a difficult to balance unit for sure. I find it strange, also, that it can hit air, ground, does splash, and can kill buildings as well. The building sieging part of it I think may be problematic. Static defence is already weak enough as is, without this just completely eliminating any use of it. Cannons often times are only there to help ward off Zergling harassment and provide some detection, but now, especially with the lower mineral counts in each base, are almost not worth making.
I do like how it shows you where the bomb thing is going to hit, and gives you time to move your army accordingly. That’s really cool and is fresh for Zerg.
The Viper’s new Irradiate-like spell
This is kinda neat. It really caught me off guard the first time I played vs it. I like the idea of punishing big clumps of Voidrays…I really do. The only reason that mass Voidrays fell out of style against Zerg was the onset of heavy Swarm Host play, which is now gone. They were called “Skillrays” for a reason. Anything that punishes that type of 1A style, I’m glad to give a try. What I don’t like, though, is that it counters Phoenix so brutally. Protoss is already in a hard spot when fighting against Mutas in PvZ. To fight them properly in a long game, you need a lot of ranged Phoenix. The reason why Phoenixes can counter Mutas is that they move while shooting (duh). Because of this, you get a bunch, and stack them up, then go to town. Already we see in Heart of the Swarm, that Phoenixes will rarely ever (at the top level) chase back and punish all the retreating Mutalisks while they are still at low numbers (even though its possible). A big part of this is because Phoenix micro is extremely time consuming. You have to continually give move commands (generally done through a special hotkey binding, thx Jakatak). There’s so much to do that this is often not the right choice. The lack of time readily available to utilize this micro to kill off the Mutas makes Protosses over-produce Phoenixes to counter Mutas. The Viper’s new spell slaughters this. Like really, terribly slaughters it. Already Fungal Growth is a good counter. Corrupters, in certain situations, are good as well. But now, this spell is going to be a real issue when trying to appropriately deal with mass amounts of Mutalisks.
I want to jump back and talk about Corrupters as well in this scenario. The cool part about the choice on whether or not to make Corrupters against Phoenixes was, in my opinion, the risk involved. Sometimes you would make them, and then after the Phoenixes were dead, you would have a bunch of ‘dead’ or more appropriately, 'wasted’ supply. Now that supply isn’t wasted anymore, with Corrupters being able to take down buildings. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It definitely could make the game more interesting. I guess the problem I’m seeing is 3 really really strong answers to Protoss’ 1 strong answer to the mass Mut-Mut problem.
This whole Roach thing.
In the last few months, we’ve seen a giant increase in Burrow-movement Roach usage against Protoss. Hell, much of Life’s championship is based off of this strategy. I’m on a plane so I can’t check at the moment, but I know he used it some amount of times vs both herO (#1 macro PvZ player in the world) and vs PartinG (#1 micro PvZ player in the world), and beat them both to win the hardest tournament out there, the GSL Code S.
That alone tells us that the strategy is at least reasonable and playable. Now let’s take a look at the changes in Legacy of the Void:
Zerg Roach Buffs:
Burrow Movement now automatic. Speed upgrade for it comes with regular Roach Speed.
Roaches can now become Ravagers, units that can kill Force Fields.
Protoss vs Roach Nerfs:
Time Warp Nerfed (very good change IMO!)
Immortal Hardened Shield removed (the replacement in theory can prevent more damage than Hardened Shield, but in practice? not so sure about that.)
Oracle Envision removed, paired with Revelation (that means you can only tag areas for detection, if Roaches aren’t there, oh well.)
So let me summarize. Roach tech was already good vs Protoss. It got very buffed in LotV. Protoss’ defence vs Roach tech got very nerfed in LotV. This is, of course, a problem.
Colossus Nerf / Disruptor addition:
I really like the direction this is going in, in theory at least. As a note, I’m not writing about the actual numbers on the Disruptor below. I’m writing about the unit design and possibilities of it once correctly balanced. By the way, I really like how microing the unit feels. It’s like Science Vessels from SC1. They stack up really closely, and you have to be very careful about microing them separately from each other and from your main control group.
PvP: Late game Colossus balls HAVE to be dead. PvP is absolutely on it’s head for a while. Hard to say how it will turn out. PvP is, in HotS, an excellent matchup at the moment. There are tons of builds, lots of styles, lots of compositions. This change might allow that to remain, and take out the part where both players get a bunch of Colossus late game and then are rewarded for playing passively. Or, it might turn it into a Roach vs Roach-esque type of matchup. We can’t possibly tell yet.
PvT: I don’t know how TvP will end up in LotV. Right now, mech is looking pretty cool. Does the Colossus / Disruptor combination just completely kill off the possibility of going bio? I’m not sure. Vs this set of units, Terran should still be looking for retreating engagements where they can split and get away from the Disruptor. Once it goes off, if there’s anything left, it should be picked off with relative ease. Lifting into Medivacs dodges the shot. Hm. I’ve been trying to think of them in terms of High Templars. It costs the gas of 2. It isn’t instant like Storm, where you just immediately start to get damage. All the damage is done at once, and its a lot of damage. Losing one is obviously far more impactful than losing 2 High Templars, due to the Robotics requirement for building it. Not totally sure how it will turn out. I think a lot of it has to do with if mech solidifies as the go-to in LotV vs Protoss or not.
PvZ: I think this matchup is so far off from reality right now that it’s hard to say how it will go. I think if we added this unit to HotS right now, you would not be able to commit to a Roach/Hydra army at all once the tech was reached. Positionally you would be screwed all game long, constantly in a retreat. Kinda have to wait a while to really know how deeply it will effect this matchup as well.
The New Economy
12 Workers is pretty awesome. Games are getting going so much faster now, I can’t imagine that it won’t have a positive impact upon viewer and player fun. Some noticeable things about it: proxys are nerfed. Cannon rushes in PvP, from what I can tell, will completely cease to exist. The travel time is just too long for them to not be ready for it. Proxy gates and raxes? Again, it might be too long. Obviously this will have the biggest impact upon PvP and TvZ. As a former Zerg and current Protoss player, I do have to say that this will eliminate a lot of frustration. It is a bit sad though, because some of the most exciting moments are those when someone holds a rush like this. Oh well, I’m sure something similarly anger-inducing will come along.
About the different ratio of gas - to - minerals: Protoss and Zerg both require quite a bit of gas to function. It’s too early for me to even really guess how this will effect things. The only thing that keeps coming to my mind is prolonged TvZs where no new bases are being taken. I could see the gas in the main base running out being a problem for Zerg sometimes there, but again, this is a really complex thing, so I guess I’ll just wait a bit before giving a real opinion on the new ratio.
About the reduced mineral patches: I’m still really worried that this will choke out certain types of play that are important, not just for certain styles of players, but that it will hurt the uber-complex core of possible strategies that make up the very important tactical wheel that exists in SC2. If a player who just hasn’t taken their 3rd yet can’t possibly be “playing safe” (i.e, getting enough observers, colossus, blink, etc), the game becomes much more binary. The economy of the game, and how changing it will change the game in the long run, is much more complicated than the balancing of various units, so I’ll write more about this at a later time.
I know I didn’t get to touch on everything, but we just don’t know a whole lot yet. The world’s best players are mostly not playing at the moment, the beta itself is on a weird and untested map pool, and some of the units are so far off from correct stats at the moment (ahem, Cyclone), that it’s warping the game. Hopefully we have a patch pretty soon so that we can get even more testing and information on the future of the game.
OK! So I finally got to sit down this morning and play the LotV Beta! I got to play it for about 5-6 hours (and now I’m going down to GSL Code A match, make sure you watch!), and really enjoyed raging on my stream a bit to some much imbalanced and misunderstood play (as expected).
I thought I’d go ahead and summarize some of my thoughts as the Beta goes forward with a few blogs here and there. Obviously I only played a little bit and it’s day 1 for me, so I can’t be 100% on the money with everything, but I think I can do a pretty good job. Anyways, here goes:
New Worker Count
Starting with 12 workers is crazy. The game starts instantly. I was just a tad worried going into the beta about this change, and thought most likely it would be a really good one. The game really gets going so much faster now. Being an old fogie who’s played since the beginning of SC1, I actually do like the down time in the beginning of the game to assess my ideas and strategies before anything happens, but its fine that that time is gone. I think this change is really good and going to make matches a bit faster and more exciting from the get-go. Less talk time about ninja turtles and nintendo games for myself and tasteles though :(((((
New Mineral Amounts
Half of the patches now, if I’m correct, have only ~750 minerals in them. It’s a cool idea to force expansions faster, with more action all around the map. I was worrying about this a lot before the beta was released. For the record, today’s games were more about figuring out what units did than anything, so I don’t have any information regarding my theory on why the new resource amounts could be bad based upon those games. I want to mention it anyways.
With less resources per patch, some styles of play could be choked out. For instance, think about Protoss vs Terran. If you want to play a safe macro-based game vs Terran, then you end up taking your 3rd base quite a bit later than Terran does (unless they waste some units or give you some sort of opening of course..). For Protoss to properly defend things, they need certain amounts of tech. Blink is really important. Thermal Lance is really important. A good Observer spread is really important. A certain number of Colossus / Immortals is really important.
Before you have these things, you kinda chill in your base trying to defend with clunky, low range type units. With the lower resource count, sitting around waiting for everything to increment out (especially of the robo). I think this type of play might be damaged by the lower mineral counts. Patches will run out before you are ready to do something safe.
I dunno if it will turn out like that, but definitely something I’m watching out for.
New Gas Amounts
I didn’t play any Zerg or Terran today, so this is just theory:
In TvZ, Terran doesn’t need all the gas that is available to them on the bases they have available. The battles around the ~4th base of Zerg are often times quite prolonged. If geysers in the earlier expansions are drying up 600-800 gas faster, that is going to mean a lot less banelings and a lot lower chance of hitting 3/3.
Again, not sure about this one. Just a thought.
Protoss - Adept
I think this is a fantastic unit design. Not sure exactly how the balance is on it at the moment, but its really neat. There are a lot of little tricks you can do with it, and it really rewards heavy multitasking. Sending out the image thingy while achieving another objective like drawing units away, killing a drone, or getting a watch tower? Pretty damn cool. Kinda reminds me of Reapers in a way, but with way more buff to em. Cool idea, totally excited to see where it ends up.
Protoss - Exploding Orb Thingy
WTF I can’t think of what its called atm. Anyways, you know what I’m talking about. I think, based on lots of the changes that Blizzard is making, that they want to make things in SC2 less hard-countery, kinda like SC1. A good and noble idea!
This thing hard counters land units though I think. I can’t imagine a Zerg who has gone for ground units that could ever, in an even game, be in a good position during a fight. The amount you have to split and run from this thing is insane. It does so much damage, if you are clumped up, you will simply lose. But what if you micro back? Won’t the rest of Protoss’ army crush whatever you didn’t run back?
Not exactly sure, but this thing was a complete baller vs ground armies.
It kinda makes me think of the Mothership Core. The Mothership Core really did a lot to help PvP. It gave a lot more options. Despite that, PvP late game is generally dominated by Colossus based Deathballs currently. This thing won’t allow that. Late game PvP will look wild and definitely change a TON due to this unit.
Ok, to be honest, I already knew this thing was broken back at Blizzcon. We all did. And I actually am a fan of the way Blizzard over-buffs stuff, to make sure it gets tested out a LOT. Infact I’m happy they are doing that with this as well. Kinda. I am surprised at how much this is by far the most ridiculous unit I’ve ever seen. The Warhound was a thousand times more balanced than this thing. Very much looking forward to the first patch.
Zerg - Lurker
Didn’t get to see this too much. It was really fun and cool in SC1 so I guess I’ll just wait and see. Solid unit design anyways.
Zerg - Ravager
This unit is pretty crazy. I kinda like the idea behind it, but its a bit powerful at the moment. Sure, it killed me and every other Protoss a bunch of times today, but that’s not what I care about. Numbers can be tweaked, etc. What I’m really scared about is this:
The Ravager is made out of Roaches. Roach tech routes were already good. Now burrow movement is way easier to get, and you get these badasses which bomb flying units, splash your army, and bust forcefields. On top of that, the Immortal was HUGELY nerfed vs Roaches. On top of that, Mutas. Right now most pro-level PvZs that you see will revolve around Blink and Sentries for the mid game on the Protoss side. Forcefields and Blink allow Protoss to expand quickly, defend, and even punish a Zerg player. Well, now they can bash your Forcefields down. This Blink/Sentry style might go away. That means Mutas become that much scarier. That means Protoss might need to start opening Phoenixes all the time. Welcome back 2011.
So there are some of my thoughts
Please remember this is literally the very beginning of the Beta, so there’s no reason to be scared that the game will be ruined. I have the utmost confidence that the game is going to be better than it ever has been once this stuff is all balanced out. There’s a lot of awesome “almost SC3″ ideas in LotV, and it will be awesome to see the game evolve so much.
Very excited for the next patch!
WHY IS THAT REJECT LADDER MAP INFERNO POOLS IN THE BETA MAP POOL?????????????????
As you very well may know, Code A starts on April 1st! While the games are normally a step below the GSL Code S, cool things can and will happen in them. In the past we’ve seen the beginning of genius, even somewhat recently, with Dark showing his first top-level plays in Code A. I’m looking forward to more of that this season, as well as a few other things. Here’s a quick preview of what’s to come over the next 3 action-packed weeks:
soO is back!
We have all been talking about Life non-stop since Blizzcon. Yeah, he’s the best Zerg. Yeah, he’s the best player in the world. But weren’t we having a very similar discussion about soO right before Blizzcon? Unfortunately, soO messed up and didn’t make the individual leagues for the past season in Korea. He also seemingly slumped in Proleague. But seriously, 4 GSL Code S finals in a row? No one has ever come close to something like that before.
soO is back on the first day of GSL Code A to take on Seed in a bo5. As much as I love Seed, I think that I and most other people are hoping that soO makes this comeback stick with a big win here and a re-entry into Code S. It’s a bo5 as mentioned previously, so the best player really should win.
DRG vs YoDa
Also on the first day, we have YoDa taking on DRG himself. DRG’s ridiculous Code S run was killed off going into the last season when he failed to qualify in the first time in….forever? Now he’ll be taking on YoDa for the chance to get back in. A couple of old school badasses, and definitely one of the very best matches in this season’s Code A. Definitely a good match to watch.
YongHwa vs ByuL
Another of the very best matches in the Code A, one of the original loves of my Protoss life, YongHwa, takes on the complete badass ByuL. A seriously good PvZ, something we could easily see and enjoy in Code S. Only one will move on though. Should be an excellent match in the April 2nd set of matches.
sOs (along with soO and Zest) was one of the big upsets as far as unqualified players going into the last Code S season. Here he is, one match away from getting back into a tournament that I think we all can agree he should eventually win. His opponent is Heart, who made it in last season, but kinda fell just short in every way in his games. I’m actually pretty excited about this match, though. I think that Heart showed a lot of brains in his matches last season, and if he can just pull it together a little bit more, he could definitely give sOs a run for his money. The combination of a good team of smart players behind him, as well as a style that should in general match up well vs sOs makes this, for me at least, one of the matches that could really surprise us this Code A.
Bomber vs Shine
This should be an interesting match. What happens when Bomber’s different play style meets a bunch of Roaches at a weird time?
Rain vs Cure
Pure heartbreak for me, to have these two face off in Code A. Absolutely both players who should be in Code S, but only one will be this season :(. Cure, being one of the very aggressive and powerful top tier Terrans, going up against the defensive god Rain. This could seriously be a ro4 match in Code S it’s so damn good. Can’t wait for April 9th!
Super vs Flash
OHHHHHHHHHHH BOYYYYYYYYYYYY. Super played REALLY well in the past few months. Flash was slumping, but is crawling out of it. No idea how this one will go. Everyone should be tuning in for it though!
So those are my picks for the most exciting matches coming up this season. I definitely suggest that everyone tunes in! Tasteless and I will be waiting :D
Hey all! This is something that Tasteless and I have mentioned before on the GSL, and something I’ve been meaning to write for quite a while now.
The meanings of some of the most powerful and descriptive words we have to describe actions in StarCraft 2 are being eroded by people who are using them wrong. In this blog post I want to clear up one of those words. The word, as you may have guessed by the title, is “Timing”.
Timing is often used in StarCraft commentary as the shortened form of “Timing Attack”. This is an old phrase from way back in StarCraft 1. It’s a beautiful phrase, full of meaning and history. Ever hear of “eee han timing!!!”? Korean commentators would masterfully use this phrase (meaning “this one timing”) to convey huge meaning to very specific situations.
Currently, many people use the word to mean any attack. This is not the case. Here are some examples of actually timing attacks and what makes them timing attacks:
Attacking right after or before an upgrade or upgrades finish.
This attack is timed out precisely. Often times you will see a pro player arrive at a location for an attack just as some amount of upgrades finish. This is planned and executed on purpose. The player is using the power added from that or those upgrades the moment they finish to extract maximum results. A good example of this would be Terran attacking Zerg right as their 2/2 upgrades finish. Because the upgrades just finished, there is a better chance that Zerg may not have finished 2/2 quite yet, thus giving Terran a powerful timing attack. Another good example would be Terran pulling his SCVs to attack Protoss right before Psi Storm. This is the moment where the SCV pull will be most effective, and Protoss’s heavy investment into the Psi Storm upgrade, tech, and Templars, will have him at his weakest against such a move. Note: Sometimes attacks will line up without planning. Often times, a player will be trying for something, such as attacking right before Psi Storm, but miss his window of timing.
Attacking at a fixed army or supply amount.
Sometimes strategies are based off of a powerful or critical mass of units in a certain situation or match-up. Something about the army the player has made makes it especially strong at that moment. A simple example of this would be a Zerg deciding that he or she will attack precisely upon a fast Roach max. Think of old ZvP and Stephano’s fast Roach maxes. This utilizes a very fast, and sometimes unexpected, large amount of supply. By instantly using this large supply to maximize the difference in supply between you and your opponent, you are executing a timing attack. Another example could be the older mech-style ~150 supply pushes. Around 150 supply (I can’t quite remember exactly the number), the mech army becomes much stronger and more put together. By attacking the moment the mech army hits this critical mass, you are preforming a timing attack.
Attacking at a fixed time of your opponent’s weakness.
Attacking right before your opponent gets Psi Storm, as outlined in the upgrade section, is a good example of this (this category overlaps some). Some other upgrade based ones would be attacking right before Terran’s Stim or Zerg’s Speed.
In addition to exploiting your opponent’s weakness in the area of upgrades, timing attacks can also be used to punish things like expansions. For instance, an attack you are planning on hitting a Protoss right after his Probes are transferred to his 3rd base can be considered a timing attack. At that moment, a Protoss player has spent 400 minerals on a Nexus, lost some amount of Probe mining time, and his new mining base has not provided additional income with which to gain him an advantage.
An anti-timing is as it sounds. It is attacking at the worst possible time based upon your upgrades, economy, or opponent’s position. Here are some examples:
You just lost 2 medivacs full of units targeting down a Nexus and some Probes. It was definitely a move that got you ahead. You now immediately attack, correctly realizing that you are now ahead. This is an anti-timing. You spent army to deal economic damage. You are now ahead in economy. By waiting a couple of minutes for your economic advantage to kick in and not only replace your units, but build you many extra units in comparison to your opponent, you could could preform a powerful timing attack. Instead, you (again, correctly), realized that you gained an advantage in the game, but misidentified how to utilize the advantage, and attacked. You lost army. Protoss did not. The loss of Nexus and Probes does not immediately effect Protoss’s army size. This is an anti-timing.
You have a really strong army. A lot of supply. Maybe you just maxed out. Your 2/2 upgrades are 90% done. You attack. This is an anti-timing. The added bonus of waiting for the close-to-finishing upgrades to finish outweighs the power of the talk nearly every time.
I don’t suggest that people use the phrases “timing”, “timing attack”, or “anti-timing” more, or even every time they are seeing one of these situations. That would suck. Overusing words makes them lose meaning. I simply suggest that everyone should understand what these phrases mean. StarCraft 2 is the most beautiful and complex game ever made, and a well used vocabulary describing what is going on can make it even more enjoyable.
Intel Extreme Masters Taipei is only a day away, and what an exciting tournament it will be! With Taipei being a cheap and fast flight from Seoul, we have a huge amount of participation from the top Korean players. This is giving us one of the most stacked weekend tournaments that we will see all year long. We are lucky (especially me, the time zone rocks!). So yeah, I’m pretty pumped to see these games, so here’s a preview of my thoughts and who I’ll be watching out for:
Dual Tournament #1
Quite a nice set of players in the first dual tournament. While most players here are really great, Leenock and Soulkey have to stand out above the others. Leenock is in absolute top form right now. The kid is killing it, and I’d be extremely surprised if he didn’t make it into the main tournament. He even spends a lot of time in Taiwan, being on Yoe Flash Wolves, and should feel more comfortable than most of the other Koreans.
Soulkey is also playing very well recently, but there’s a lot of ZvZ for him to get through. It could be pretty hard to cut his way through this diverse set of Zergs.
Although Has has done pretty well in the Taiwanese scene (which is outstandingly Zerg heavy), I don’t forsee him doing well here. He’s against the more experienced HerO to start, and his PvZ is based on allins. Even if he manages to take out a Korean Zerg or 2, they should eventually figure him out and play safely.
HerO actually looks quite good right now, having a pretty well played game vs Pet in Proleague this week. It seems though that he’s playing a bit too fancily (is that a word?). He’s suffered from this in the past, but I guess that’s what makes him HerO.
To Advance: Leenock, Soulkey.
Possible Upset By: TRUE
Dual Tournament #2
I’d definitely put this group as weaker than Dual Tournament #1. Once again, its very Zerg heavy, but doesn’t look quite as aggressive or accomplished.
Just based on his ridiculous experience, I have to give HyuN an edge here. The guy gets deep in just about every event he goes to. He is the king of travel and playing well despite it. Not to mention, he got 2nd place in the Taiwan Open last year in a very stacked Zerg field as well.
It’s great to see DRG here. After dropping out of GSL for the first time in a hundred years, I’m hoping for a big showing from him to make up for it.
Check is a funny case. People forget he’s still around and still strong. He’s on a Taiwanese team (Wayi Spider), which means he’s constantly in ZvZ matches in the Taiwanese scene. Definitely could pull some upsets.
I do wonder how well Snute will do here. He’s very strong and very smart so shouldn’t be counted out. I think based on his side of the bracket, there’s even a good chance he could squeeze out in first place.
To Advance: HyuN, Snute
Possible Upset By: DRG, Patience
OK, on to the main tournament! Here are the players I’m looking to watch this weekend:
I don’t think I ever remember Sen not being the highest finishing non-Korean in any tournament he’s ever been in. The western scene forgets about Sen quite regularly because of his heavy participation in the Taiwanese scene, but that doesn’t mean his skill isn’t top notch. He won last year’s Taiwan Open against a similar field, and should be feared by everyone.
herO is in god mode right now. He’s making a very strong case to be called the best Protoss in the world. He’s already made it to the ro16 in GSL Code S, and even though he was eliminated in the SSL ro16, he really should have gotten out in first place in his group. His PvP is top notch right now. His PvT has always been the best or very close to the best in the world. His PvZ continues to evolve, and might be the best there is right now. On top of all that? The kid likes to win IEMs. Definitely the favorite of the tournament.
Classic has been pretty solid for a while now. Nothing too flashy, but he continues to play very solidly. Definitely could get out of his group and go pretty far. Definitely not a pick to win the tournament though.
He’s still got it. His powerhouse defensive play and strong PvP should get him very far in this tournament. Definitely a possible winner here.
It’s Life. He’s the world champion for a reason. Even when people can outplay him, he will just use mass Zerglings to kill them. Absolutely could win this tournament.
Maru is looking very strong right now. The Prince of Marines knows his stuff, and I think it would take someone like PartinG or herO to actually take him out. Expecting Maru to go far.
PartinG continues to use his aggressive style and superb micro to kill just about everyone, everywhere. He’s even shown he has what it takes to win weekend tournaments after HomeStory Cup.
I know I mentioned him before in the dual tournament section, but I need to put him down again. Almost no one can stop Leenock right now. Even his losses look fantastic. Definitely a contender in this tournament.
So, final predictions:
Possible Upsets By: Rain, Leenock
Slightly Less Possibly Upsets By: Life, Maru
This tournament is definitely going to be awesome. Absolutely can’t wait to watch it :D!
BEFORE YOU READ: I don’t have any clue how or what Tumblr takes out a bunch of my damn spaces inbetween paragraphs and then leaves others in. If anyone can help me with that please tweet at me.
This is supposed to be it: the best year in StarCraft 2’s history. The vast majority of the top Korean players have been sent back to the Korean leagues. We now have 5 days a week of SC2 action in Korea…plenty to keep all the top players on their toes. We have 2 individual leagues as well as the ProLeague.
It’s starting to look a lot more like SC1. For those of you who weren’t around back then, let me explain the bread and butter of the game:
OnGameNet StarLeague (individual league with 3 seasons a year)
MBC Game StarLeague (individual league with 3 seasons a year)
Now, for comparison, SC2 this year:
GSL Code S (individual league with 3 seasons a year)
SPOTV StarLeague (individual league with 3 seasons a year)
So anyways, I’m pretty pumped for this year’s SC2. It probably won’t surprise you that I’m most excited about the return of the GSL. Code S has always represented the very finest SC2 players, and the absolute highest level games consistently, without doubt. Some people over the past years have wondered, though, about how well the Koreans who have decided to play outside of Korea would fair against the stone-cold KeSPA killers that have remained in the country.
First, let’s get this straight…
GSL wiped all the seeds for this first season of Code S. It was just a giant open qualifier for Code S, to try and welcome back the players who have been playing in WCS NA / EU over the past years. If they hadn’t have done that, it would have taken at least an entire additional season to get anyone like MC or TaeJa into Code S. Some players, like the previously mentioned MC and TaeJa, made it right in to Code S. I saw lots of comments, tweets, etc. from people saying “see!” and “Obviously TaeJa is Code S level!” and “The levels of these players are all similar, as expected!”.
No. This was an open qualifier. There is always a lot of randomness in a giant open qualifier. That’s why we have seeds. If you prove yourself by getting into the top 8 in a season of Code S, you don’t have to risk your tournament life going through a random bracket. Yes, MC, TaeJa, and many others from the WCS NA / EU regions made it right in, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily contenders. soO, the 4 time consecutive GSL Code S runner up didn’t make it in. It’s not as if he’s not one of the top 32 players in the world. Same with Zest and sOs. There’s a lot of randomness involved in such a gigantic bracket. Best of 3’s can be unforgiving. Have a good or bad day on the qualifier day, and anything can happen.
While this season’s Code S is, without a doubt, extremely stacked (as well as REALLY exciting), it is not the strongest field we’ve ever had. There are tip-top players missing. Don’t worry though, they will be back. You can’t keep soO, sOs, and Zest (as well as a few others) out of Code S for long.
Now, it IS cool to see all these players from other regions get right back in, and have the chance to prove that they belong. Do they though? Let’s take a look at the players who have rejoined the Korean scene:
Back to Korea and Code S
To quickly review my thoughts on this list:
MC, Bomber, MMA and TaeJa stand out. These guys have all been badasses for ever. They have all shown they can compete all over the place, and have won//placed highly in Korean-dense fields before. Let’s go into some more depth, though, because that’s what I like to do.
The Boss Toss doesn’t really need anyone’s stamp of approval. The guy has won the most money in all of SC2 (almost up to 500,000$ in pure prize winnings wtf?). He’s won absolutely every title you could ever want, including 2 GSL Code S’s. Those were a long time ago though, right? Well, I guess he did win WCS Europe Season 1 in 2014. Well, the truth is, there isn’t a lot (really for anyone in this list) of information on how MC will do in a tournament with lots of prep time and only the best Korean players in it. The one thing that we do have to look at is MC’s performance at Blizzcon, where he played against Code S regular herO. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much from MC in that match. Boy, was I wrong. Although he ended up losing 2-3, MC played out of his mind. He showed a great variety of builds (as always), and just ridiculous intelligence. His builds and play were smart and strong. In fact, I felt like he might have just misplayed a bit on the King SeJong Station game, and I think he actually could have won that game. This is all PvP though. PvP is a lot about mind games, reads, and execution. These have always been strong points for MC.
PvT and PvZ are a different matter. While in general terms MC’s strength of mixing up builds and mind-gaming his opponents are strong qualities for any matchup, you have to have a rock-solid foundation underneath all of that to make it deep in Code S.
How often do you see MC play straight-up strong macro games vs Terran? Recently we’ve seen a lot of strange, off-the-wall play from MC, such as Blink/Charge/Immortal/Storm. Sure, he’s done well. Sure, it’s won games. But, from the pool of Bomber, TY, Maru, INnoVation, MMA, YoDa, Heart, MarineKing, Dream, FanTaSy, GuMiho, TaeJa and Hack, how many times can you hide Oracles or open Charge and be victorious over the course of a multiple month tournament?
2 base allins are still strong in PvZ, but not like they once were. More and more we are seeing PvZs go late game, where it becomes a battle of Swarm Host / Corrupter / Viper vs whatever Protoss can muster. If MC doesn’t hit a sharp timing attack in the weak points of a Zerg tech-switch, will he be able to keep up?
The one thing I can say, and often times do while casting MC, is that he knows how to win. No matter what spot he’s in, no matter how weird the game, or how behind he is, he knows exactly what to do to be able to pick up a victory.
Bomber used to compete easily with the top back at the early stages of SC2 in Korea. Since then he’s definitely been through some ups and downs, but overall is a very strong player still. He’s got some impressive stats, and a slew of tournament victories and high placings. The one thing that scares me a bit about Bomber though, is how differently he plays. Its both a strength and a weakness. You can be quite unpredictable and catch your opponents off guard, sure….but strange and off-beat strategies are not the norm for a reason. They are not as solid as “regular” play. You definitely need a mixture of it all to end up going really far, but if you rely too heavily on your own style, the studying done by regulars on big KeSPA teams -should- be enough to tear you apart.
MMA surprised everyone in the whole damn world by getting 2nd at BlizzCon. So unexpected. His play was good. His multitasking was strong. I find it really hard to put my finger on exactly where MMA will fit, but I do have my doubts that he will be able to deliver this season.
TaeJa is rock solid good. His micro, macro, strategies. Its all so strong. Its going to take a bad day or some badasses to take him out.
First left the GSL at a time where he looked to be one of the absolute best Protosses in the world. I remember while casting him that season that I was shocked that he improved so drastically for that season. It didn’t go his way, but his level was top 4 GSL quality, to be honest. After going to WCS Europe, First just didn’t…keep up with what he looked like in that final GSL season? Based on my watching / casting of him at events outside of Korea, I don’t expect great things this season. That being said, he’s been up to the level before, and I really hope to see him get back there eventually again.
San, YoDa, Heart
I just don’t see an impact from these 3 guys in Code S right now. I just don’t see it.
The Non-KeSPA players
I wouldn’t be me or a good analyst if I didn’t bring up KeSPA teams vs non KeSPA teams. As the KeSPA players switched over fully to SC2, we saw the trend of them replacing non-KeSPA team players over time. Let me put an excerpt here from my preview for the 2014 GSL Code S Season 3:
“The KeSPA asteroid hit the Korean professional scene some time ago, and the climate change is almost complete. The old guard has been reduced to just a handful of players. Only DRG, PartinG, Hurricane, Avenge, Dark and Maru were around before the KeSPA teams finally made the switch to StarCraft 2. That’s a mere 6 players out of 32. The most interesting part?
PartinG, Hurricane, Avenge, Dark, and even Maru, all have something in common. They joined KeSPA teams. DRG on the other hand, has not, as of yet. This makes him the only truly non-KeSPA player left in the entire GSL Code S.”
The GSL is a meat grinder. Its exciting to have all of these players that left the Korean scene back for another go at it, but realistically, they are at a disadvantage over time.
This group is actually really hard to predict. To be fair, following such a long downtime in Korean SC, tons of team transfers, and the huge batch of fresh players in Code S, I’m probably going to say that a lot in these group predictions….but it’s true.
Fan-Fiction author Artosis wants to say that MC’s pure reputation will put the new player PenguiN into such a funk that he won’t have a chance. Rogue and FanTaSy have both already made it into the ro16 in SPOTV’s new StarLeague, and both pretty convincingly through 3-0s in same race matchups against Soulkey and MarineKing, respectively. All this being said, I expect Rogue and FanTaSy to advance, with MC securely in 3rd place. MC is MC though, so even if he won the whole damn GSL, no one should be surprised to the point of a heart attack.
Final thoughts: Rogue, FanTaSy advance.
I’ve got to say, I know that MarineKing has had some insanely good results lately, but I think he won’t live up to the hype around him. If I was doing FPL right now, he’d be on my anti-team. His Hot6ix cup run was on the back of holding Protoss allins, and none of his games have been too impressive in my eyes. I expect Soulkey to be able to take him out.
YoDa vs San could be quite a nice matchup. I think you’d have to favor San a little bit, but it will probably be rather close.
Overall I have to favor Soulkey to get out of the group in first. There is some chance that San’s 4 gate Zealot rushes and Immortal pushes could take him out, but I have to trust that Soulkey will have prepared for what we all know San is going to do vs him. MarineKing’s TvP style I think will actually match up favorably against San, so that could do very well for him if the bracket turns out right. His TvT doesn’t seem to be too flashy at the moment, though, so that could be a problem.
Final thoughts: Soulkey, YoDa advance.
Holy crap this group is good. GuMiho has been an absolute killer recently, both in online cups as well as in the qualifiers for…well…everything. Life is the World Champion. Rain is still one of the best Protoss on earth. Panic…is probably panicing about being in this ridiculous group.
Panic won’t be going to the round of 16. Who will though? Life ended up losing to the mech based play of ForGG, and if there’s one player that mechs more often than ForGG in TvZ, it’s GuMiho. I would say though, that Life is completely aware of this, and should have prepared for it as well. The question is, will Rain defeat these guys? I lean towards yes. Rain, since his championship, has never been worse than 4th best Protoss in the world. Despite leaving his KeSPA team, I would venture to say his level is still very, very high.
Final thoughts: Life, Rain advance.
Pretty wild group here. What stands out is the fact that YongHwa, the qualifier hero, is in a group of 3 strong Terrans. His first match is against Dream, a young and (still after years) up and coming Terran, the least popular out of the 3. Its always the young talented kids who slay the older macro players like YongHwa, so its a hard match to call between these two.
TY vs Bomber is a really cool match, to be honest. Anyone who’s a fan of international events knows and loves Bomber. They’ve also heard every caster in every TvT he’s ever played, quote his wildly successful TvT win rate. I bet most people are thinking Bomber is lucky to be in this group of 3 Terrans and YongHwa who never quite preforms as well as he should. Well maybe he is, but I still think TY is going to beat him in the first round.
Seriously though, these groups are tough as hell to call right now. I guarantee my predictions will be much better next season when we actually have an idea of how people are playing at the moment…
Final thoughts: TY, Bomber advance. I’m sure about TY but that second spot could be YongHwa as well.
Hack did knock Cure out of getting into the GSL this season, and has been fielded by his team in Proleague quite a bit.. but come on…Maru. Sure Maru got out shined the last few seasons by some other badass Terrans, but his results recently have been pretty damn on point.
PartinG is still looking very strong recently, despite a couple PvP losses to tip-top Protosses. On the other hand, First hasn’t really done anything. Most of his recent PvPs have been pretty unimpressive.
Final thoughts: Maru, PartinG advance. I’m sure you’re all surprised by this.
TaeJa vs herO is probably the best match in the round of 32 along with the possible Rain vs Life match. It should be awesome. herO has had the best, or very close to the best PvT in the world for quite some time. I expect herO to take it down.
Terminator is a funny case. This guy gets into absolutely everything, but as soon as he faces a tip-top guy, he gets rekt. It’s hard to say if he will beat Curious to be honest. Curious has been pretty strong lately, but not so strong that he’s a sure bet. A hard one, but maybe I don’t have to think about it too much, because neither of these guys should be favorites to advance.
Final thoughts: herO advances in 1st, TaeJa in 2nd.
One of the few groups which I immediately had strong opinions on. Sorry MMA, Dark is one of the absolute best players in the world at the moment. Every single season I’ve been hyping this guy a little bit more. His improvement has been steady and noticeable. SKT1 is now starting to field him every time in Proleague, and even using him as the Ace. The kid’s skill is insane. He will advance from this group.
Dear’s career goes like this:
A Killer -> joins non-Korean team -> Not A Killer -> goes back to join a KeSPA team -> A Killer????
Yeah, I think so. Seed, despite being a former GSL champion, has never been super consistent or solid either. Pretty clear choices in this group I think.
Final thoughts: Dark, Dear advance.
Final thoughts: Solar, INnoVation advance. Yes, I’m aware that Heart just had an amazing WCS NA season, and that Super did very well in the KeSPA cup and SPOTV Starleague.
So that gives us a ro16 that consists of:
And that, folks, is a pretty damn good looking ro16.
Maybe I’ll do another writeup then, after we get to see exactly where everyone’s at after a couple of months of both individual leagues and PL games.
The to-and-fro of Colossus vs Colossus PvP: Zest’s amazing PvP pt.2
As I mentioned a little while ago, I’m currently rewatching all of Zest’s PvPs since the ro8 in GSL 2014 Season 1. I’ve recently come to realize that he’s actually even better than the hype says. In particular, he has some of the most perfect and inspiring PvP ever seen. In particular, his match against Rain (who you also must count as one of the very best PvPers in the world), is amazingly good. Both of their personalities and playstyles come through in this awesome match, and I find myself rewatching some of the games 2-3 times, pausing at certain points and rewinding to better understand what is going on.
I, myself, am an anti-fan of Colossus based PvP, ever since the Immortal/Zealot/Archon style was introduced last year. Imagine my distaste in game 2 of Zest vs Rain in the ro4 of GSL Code S season 1, as the 2 best Protosses both choose to focus on Colossus based strategies on the dirty map known as Daedalus Point.
Regardless, I watched carefully, taking notes all the way. This game turned out to be one of the PvP’s I took the heaviest notes on so far. Some beautiful stuff happened in this game. Let me share some of it with you.
The map, as previously mentioned, is Daedalus Point. This means Twilight openings. Obviously. The architecture of the map makes Blink play the most solid and versitile opening, and both players open up with fast Twilights, acknowledging this.
Zest goes into Blink, while Rain chooses DTs. In the meantime, both players grab Robos. As Zest sees DTs, he discontinues Stalker production at 4. This is actually a great number of Stalkers, when you think about it. 4 Threatens single-volley Probe kills. On top of this, Stalkers get weaker and weaker as a PvP progresses, so the more you make, the more damage you are going to need to do with them. Since Rain opened DTs, he also opened with Immortals (this is just something you do with DT openings when playing normally, for a variety of reasons). If you study Rain’s play in addition to this, you will see that he almost always makes 2-3 Immortals minimum, with any build, to stabalize. Stopping at 4 Stalkers was really cool.
Right after their Robos, both players choose to make a Nexus, and quickly go into a Forge afterwards. When 2 top level players go for (somewhat) similar tech routes (which have answers for each other, i.e, these openings), it is silly to go and try to kill your opponent. He will just be slightly more greedy than you and defend normally, coming out reasonably far ahead. Thus, the Forges.
Zest grabs 3 Sentries, while Rain only grabs 2. Last year, 3 was the norm for Sentries, but this year we are seeing more and more players grab 2. The reason to grab 2 is obvious: PvP is more understood, meaning you don’t necessarily need as much scouting. On top of that, spending 100 gas less than your opponent on a unit that may not affect the game in a huge way can be a nice edge.
Why does Zest grab 3 then? Well, you have to remember that Rain opened DTs with Immortals while Zest got Blink, and was unable to do any damage. The extra Sentry certainly would come in super helpful if Rain decided to attack, with what is now, in a heads-up battle, a superior composition. For Rain, there is absolutely no way that Zest can do an actual attack. Rain’s composition would smash it. He only needs the 2 Sentries for scouting, not for defensive purposes.
Now, before his Natural Nexus finishes, Zest starts his gasses there. This is partially because he’s spending so much gas on Sentries at the moment, and partially because he’s going for a super-fast Colossus follow-up. Really, both are related. The obviously share the very limited gas resource, but those Sentries which can block against a fast Immortal attack, also buy you time to get Colossus out. For your opponent to realistically attack you up a ramp, he will need a way to break Force Fields. If he goes for Colossus, he’s slower than you. Archons are a bit too clunky to get this early in the game as well. Colossus is a solid choice here.
Rain also decides to go for Colossus, but only after 3 Immortals. Good old Rain, nice and safe :D. Zest quickly scouts this with a Hallucinated Phoenix, and instantly drops another Robo. This is years and years old. When both players are going for Colossus, the easiest and often-times best counter is to go for more Colossus. Colossus need death-balls to be effective, and you simply don’t have them this early into the game. With your opponent going Colossus, he simply can’t attack you.
Obviously, this truth about going for even more Colossus vs your opponent also going Colossus is true for both sides. So what if both players go for double Robo Colossus? Well, they can’t attack for even longer, that’s what. And what’s that mean? 3rds!
Zest promptly takes his 3rd after the 2nd Robo and a couple more safety gates.
Now clearly, this isn’t the only reaction for Colossus vs Colossus. It was the most common at the professional level back in Wings of Liberty, but there are some other options as well. Rain took another one of these options. The second he scouts these 2 Robos (and don’t forget, with 3 Sentries for Zest and 2 Sentries for Rain, the scouting is almost non-stop), he takes his own 3rd base and adds a bunch of gates.
So let’s take a look at what these two players are doing, what their game plans are, and what needs to happen for them to win or lose:
ZEST: - 2 Robo Colossus into a 3rd base. - Late game oriented. If left alone, he will have the ultimate army. - Other strategies will have a stronger army than him for a short time. - Must create his Deathball and win a straight-up engagement.
RAIN: - 1 Robo Colossus into a 3rd base and additional gates. - Mid game oriented. He will have a stronger army for a short period of time. - Unless he does critical damage, it will be a tricky transition into the late game. - He must deal at least some damage in the mid-game in order to be able to transition his soon to be weaker army into a stronger late-game.
Both players are completely aware of what is going on. While various players would feel more comfortable in one position over the other, or might consider one position to be leading, it is most definitely still anyone’s game. It now comes down to the tiny extra things each player does which will decide the game.
Rain stops Probe production and makes a Warp Prism. He moves out towards Zest’s 3rd base. It’s time to put on some damage with his superior forces.
Zest sits his main army in his Natural expansion. To move down towards his 3rd would be suicide, as his army would become vulnerable in the open to the large gateway based force of Rain. Instead, Zest sends out his 4 Stalkers from the early game (which would have almost no impact on any battles that could happen at home) to harass Rain’s 3rd base.
In the next moments, Rain kills the 3rd base of Zest. Zest kills off some Probes with his Stalkers, and forces a few Zealot warpins to chase them off. Rain continues to sit on the other side of the map for a little bit longer, but Zest continues the Blink harassment at his 3rd. It is pretty darn effective, and Rain pulls back to his 3rd with his main force (partially to deal with the harassment, partially because he knows that Zest’s army is getting very scary indeed).
After Rain killed the 3rd base he starts a Stargate. The Colossus count quickly becomes 8 for Zest, 3 for Rain. It is clear that he must get Stargates. This is one of the most interesting points in this entire game. In my opinion, he started the Stargate far too late. Generally in a situation like this, you would want to start the Stargate as you moved towards your opponent’s 3rd base, not right after you killed it. There could be a few different reasons why Rain did this…
- He thought Zest would commit to defending the 3rd base, and wanted every resource put into his actual army. - He wanted to warp in Zealots to Zest’s main, and force an army split which he could then take advantage of with an attack up the ramp (this idea could have been foiled by the forced warpins at his 3rd to defend vs Zest’s Blink harassment). - Maybe something else, though I’m pretty sure all the other reasons I came up with are below Rain’s level.
Whatever the reason, the Stargate did start a little bit late, which may have ended up ultimately costing Rain the game.
Anyways, as Rain retreated, Zest calmly took his 3rd base again. It was very timely, as the main base was running out, and he kept up what was basically a 2 base economy the whole game.
Zest very quickly scouts the Tempest production (from 2 Stargates), and immediately starts warping in Stalkers. He also makes some Zealots, Archons, and an Immortal. The Immortal was a bit weird, but still not unreasonable. Everything else makes a lot of sense.
Zest attacks shortly after the scout (but still longer than I thought it would take him, probably just for another production round). The battle is a bit weird. Zest comes right up the ramp (makes perfect sense for him) to get that straight-up engagement which was mentioned earlier. He has the superior composition (at least until more Tempests are out). He should win any straight up battle. The thing that gets me, is that Rain sat right there and fought. It felt pretty clear that with only 2 Tempests, he needed to buy some more time. If he could have kited backwards a bit more, and let his Tempests do a bit more work, he might have won this game. There are 3 peices to the puzzle of Rain fighting where he did that make me question whether he should have tried to kite back and delay a bit more:
- Time Warp. If he kites back under a Time Warp, he will take much more damage. - 3rd base in close proximity to the Natural ramp. If he kites back, Zest can easily attack backwards and right to snipe the 3rd base, which has Probes at it. Rain’s main is basically dry. 2 base vs 3 base is not NEARLY as bad as 1 base vs 2 base, as far as economy goes. Losing his 3rd would be a tremendous blow. - Kiting back either means splitting his army onto 2 sides of his Natural Nexus (where the piece on the left can be easily picked off), or kiting back into a very focused choke point, which would amplify the 8 Colossus’ splash damage and range.
After much thought and consideration, I do think its a combination of these 3 things, as well as a bit of a mistake. I really do think that battle could have been handled better.
Either way, Zest broke through, even if just barely, and ended up taking the game.
I felt like this game was just absolutely brilliant by both players. So many smart moves and great, intelligent, forward thinking plays. Something you don’t get to see from lower level PvPers very often.
Zest is pretty damn good. At every matchup. In every way. Yeah. He’s so good, that I’ve decided to study every little aspect of his PvP, as I’m ridiculously impressed by it.
When Zest played vs sOs in the round of 8 of GSL Code S season 1 earlier this year, he won, and I was impressed. Not too impressed though. sOs sometimes does some crazy stuff, and sometimes it doesn’t go over too well. He also just played a bunch of PvPs at IEM Katowice (which he won) that could be studied. He was also severely jet-lagged. For these reasons, I kind of ignored the series overall. Now, a little over a month later, I’ve decided to go back and look again. The reasons that I listed above for why the series wasn’t the most important thing ever still stand, but now I know I can count on finding brilliance when looking at any recent and previous game of Zest.
This is the game where I have started my re-watch-with-a-notepad journey, and it did not disappoint. Let’s get into it!
Zest bottom left, sOs top right @ Frost
sOs starts off with a very sOs thing to do, Nexus first. Zest plays more conventionally, getting a Gateway and 2 gasses before scouting. He immediately scouts sOs, thus helping him to do EXACTLY what he would optimally do vs Nexus first (because he scouted it as quickly as he ever could).
Zest throws down a StarGate. Then it goes Warpgate - Moco - Stalker
Obviously the StarGate finishes, and he chrono boosts out an Oracle. During this time, the Stalker and Moco travel north to put some pressure on sOs’s Nexus.
Zest stops on 22 Probes, and after the Oracle is started, gets 2 Gateways (going up to 3), followed immediately by a Stalker.
Now here is where it gets really, really cool. The Oracle goes straight up to the main base. sOs has 2 options.
1. Lose a bunch of Probes
2. Keep 2 Stalkers in his mineral line for now
Pretty obviously he will keep the Stalkers back. This allows Zest to pound on the Nexus, and immediately warp in 3 more Stalkers to help out. Now remember that he immediately got the Warpgate research after his Oracle, before the Moco or Stalker. This allows him to get his warpin a bit quicker than sOs. He now has 5 Stalkers and a Moco, as well as an Oracle threatening the minerals of sOs (forcing units to stay back).
It is an obvious time to use the Nexus Cannon.
During all of this, Zest has committed to another Oracle. Pretty expensive. No real damage done yet despite all these units made early on. That’s OK though, he keeps warping in Stalkers (and a Sentry at some point).
Eventually the Nexus Cannon wares off. It’s go time. There is not enough energy for another Nexus Cannon. Unit counts are similar (there was a funny proxy warpin by sOs that was cleaned up with the Oracles). Without a Nexus Cannon available, its impossible to defend both locations at this moment for sOs. The 2 Oracles threaten to SHRED the Probe line if he doesn’t keep back ~4 Stalkers (which he does). With similar unit counts, this leaves him unable to defend the Nexus, which is now assaulted by the full army of Zest. The one Sentry further complicates things. The Nexus is taken down with ease.
From here, even without scouting, it is obvious that the only option in this game is for sOs to go Blink. This should be the only thing that Zest has to worry about for the rest of the game.
Now, as this nexus is being cleaned out, Zest has an easy contain up at the bottom of the ramp. He starts his Nexus. It is now, no matter what, faster than sOs’s.
At this point, sOs tries a little Stalker warpin near Zest’s natural, against which Zest brings in his Oracles, cancels the Nexus, and warps in 3 more Stalkers, which will basically guarantee kills on the counter-Stalkers and proxy Pylons. I find this to be a decisive and brilliant move.
“From here, even without scouting, it is obvious that the only option in this game is for sOs to go Blink. This should be the only thing that Zest has to worry about for the rest of the game.” - Artosis, 2014
Proxy Pylons are an issue when your opponent has to counter attack for a realistic shot at winning. Getting free Stalker kills is also one of the most important things that Zest can do at this moment. Remember, the unit count was approximately even when he killed the Nexus. Stalkers with Blink will wreck Stalkers without. Because Zest is expanding and getting a Robo to counter the obvious Blink, sOs WILL have more Gateway units. These kills are very important.
Zest restarts his Nexus immediately when his money gets back to 400.
This is the point in the game during which I think that Zest made a mistake (yeah there was another mistake not scouting/killing all the Proxys earlier, but I don’t care about that one as much. this one is a theoretical mistake.)
OK, so, on to the mistake. At the EXACT moment that he started to kill the counter-warpin Stalkers, Zest should have FF’d his opponent’s ramp and come home.
- A counter attack by sOs with Blink is imminent
- Zest will have a faster Nexus now no matter what
- Zest has Immortals on the way very shortly (which need plenty of units around to help them – they don’t beat Blink on their own)
Of course, the longer Zest can stay on the contain, the more ahead he can get, and against someone as good as sOs, you want to get ahead as possible.
Well, Zest gets kinda caught leaving a little bit too late, ends up losing some extra units, but overall does an excellent job utilizing the high grass (something we don’t see nearly enough!). Meh, it’s happened to all of us.
When Zest finally gets home, he dedicates lots of Sentry energy to scouting, uses his remaining Oracle as much as possible, and continues his tech tree, making sure not to skimp on units.
Zest wins. Really strong and smart play vs a build you don’t see in PvP very often at all.
After a long period of Protoss domination, and a Season 1 Protoss Champion, Code S is back at the perfect time. Despite the fact that the tournament is very Protoss heavy, we’ve seen a big return in the quality of play as well as win rates of Terran and especially Zerg.
The Group(s) Of Death
I literally cannot decide on a Group Of Death this season. Many of them seem very close, with 3 players definitely able to make it out, and a 4th who could if things go well for them on that particular day. Not that common a thing with the round of 32. While I write this, I’m still trying to figure it out, so I guess I’ll just describe multiple groups of death, and my reasoning behind them!
- Rain, Stork, Ruin, and Symbol
Why it could be considered the group of death:
Rain, while being slightly overshadowed by a couple of other Protosses at the moment, is still looking like the most solid Protoss in the world. The guy will probably never fall out of Code S. In the past 3 “Code S” seasons, he’s made at least top 8, and it took Zest, Soulkey, and Maru to finally knock him out. Oh, and he beat Soulkey in the finals of the Hot6ix cup. If you ever bet on him to lose before the bracket phase of a tournament, then you like to lose.
Ruin is the next big thing. In the Code A earlier this year for season 1, he played such an inspired group that I ended up writing an article on SCDOJO about it. The improvement he showed between the last time we saw him and then was amazing. Well, that happened again. This season in Code A, Ruin showed some really innovative and intelligent play. Really, ridiculously strong. I actually meant to already write an article on it, but got caught up getting ready for DreamHack. Will probably highlight his play next week or so. Wait for it. Till then, trust me, this kid is going to be huge.
Symbol is a player who has shown even more stability than Rain, and over a longer period of time. The past few seasons have not been kind to Symbol, falling out in the ro32, especially when you consider that before that the whole world was just waiting for him to straight up win the damn thing. Now let’s forget for a moment Symbol’s results, and instead remember his beginning. Symbol was first known for his insanely good ZvP, specifically his cross-every-t-dot-every-i-and-lower-case-j defensive macro play. This group has 3 Protoss players. Symbol is not currently playing in ProLeague (due to not being on a PL team). Symbol hasn’t traveled outside of Korea for quite some time. When you put all of this together, he has a ridiculous amount of time to actually sit down and practice, and only 1 race to practice for. Symbol will be deadly when it comes time to play in this group.
Stork - he’s not bad at all, but I’m not going to argue that he’s any part of why I’m calling this one of the Groups of Death. Still, he is at least a player who could make an upset and make it through this group if he has a good day.
- Life, Rogue, Hydra, and Classic
Why it could be considered the group of death:
Life is in amazing shape. His results and play have been getting better and better recently, topped off by a DreamHack Bucharest win this past weekend, where he looked nearly unbeatable. It takes a really special player to kill off Life, and generally that player is not a Zerg. Not only does this group have 3 Zergs in it, but Zerg is arguably the strongest race going into this season of Code S.
Rogue, as I’ve been saying in my past several times casting him, quietly one of the very best players in the world. Go watch some of his recent games. He’s playing so close to perfect in many games that it’s scary. Who knows what would have happened at IEM if he didn’t have to play Life in the first round. Rogue is the real deal, someone who will win a championship in the future.
Classic has been SKT1’s ace more times in ProLeague than I’m sure anyone could have predicted going into this year. A former #1 draft pick from SC1, this kid is a monster. His play, strategy, and execution are all top notch. On top of that, he’s on SKT1, a team with a ridiculous Protoss lineup to help him work his game.
Hydra - the weakest in the group, but always putting up solid play. He may be one of the more “cheesey” and aggressive Zergs out there, but doesn’t get much flak for it compared to other aggro Zergs. Why do you think that is? My theory is because he looks really solid the entire time. Deep down people can tell he’s really skilled.
And that’s not all….
I feel like I could also make similar arguments for groups E and H. The thing is, it’s getting a bit late, so meh, this is all for now :P
All in all, this season really excites me. Its so ridiculously stacked, and players are better than ever before. OK, OK, players are always getting better…but its really starting to count now. The differences in skill are becoming more noticeable, and there are less and less random losses that are completely unexpected.
Make sure you tune in as Code S boots up again at 6pm KST on April 30th!